Lee Sherman is live at the WWDC keynote. Phil Schiller has good news regarding the new Mac Pro tower, singling out pro audio applications to demonstrate the new machine’s speed:

  1. Intel Xeon Woodcrest-based: Core 2 dual core CPUs up to 3GHz (that’s Core 2, not Core Duo, meaning the latest version of Intel’s Core architecture — and probably exactly what Apple was waiting for to go to Intel in towers); 64-bit, 4 MB shared L2 cache
  2. Good “performance per watt” (that’s not just Apple blowing smoke this time; PC press have confirmed that about Core 2)
  3. Quadruple your pleasure: Two dual-core CPUs, 2.1x faster than the existing top of the line G5 quad
  4. Faster audio performance: Logic Pro is 1.8x faster than the G5 quad; Soundtrack Pro 1.6x faster. (These are the first we’ve heard of Soundtrack benchmarks, but we verified the basic claims of the Logic benchmarks on the Intel laptops at Macworld)
  5. More storage: Finally, Apple is addressing the gripes about the G5 design: 4 hard drive bays for up to 2 TB of storage, a second optical drive, more front panel I/O and slots, but all fit in the same enclosure; thanks to the fact that there’s less need for cooling, there’s more space for expansion

  6. US$2499 buys you a single, standard configuration: dual 2.66 XEON, 1GB RAM (underconfigured there, but okay), and 250GB HD, plus SuperDrive
  7. “Highly Configurable”: You can configure options from there; NVIDIA Quadro graphics are available as an option

And so, Apple has “completed the Intel transition.” I have to say, it really sounds as though Apple has delivered here. I had hoped Apple would either go with a smaller case or deliver more storage options. The latter of these options is really ideal, given the pro market. The big question will be performance, as compared to the previous Power Mac G5s. The G5s perform so well, ironically, that unlike the laptops there may be less incentive to upgrade immediately if you have a late-model G5. But with Intel’s roadmap as healthy as it is, the long haul looks very good indeed, and if you’ve got an older tower that you’ve been waiting to upgrade, you may finally have a reason to spring. We’ll bring you more details on these machines as we get them. Now, since the case is the same, I hope we see more options for toting these giant towers on the road.

Now that Apple has delivered pro towers, you can also expect Digidesign will be making the TDM version of Pro Tools Intel-native very soon, too, so stay tuned for more on that.

Mac Pro [Apple.com]