Mar 3, 2006

Eight-Core Mac Pro

The excitement at 1 Infinite Loop continues to grow over the Intel-based Power Mac replacement, code-named Hydra after the eight-headed serpent from Greek mythology. Since the iMac and mini have gone Intel, more resources are being devoted to the project. Beta testing of the systems should begin some time in May or June, and most sources predict their debut some time in September or October.

And from what we've been hearing, it'll be well worth the wait.

First and foremost, Hydra will feature two, four, or eight cores, twice the number featured in the current Power Mac G5 Quad. Testing units currently employ one, two, or four Core Duo chips, though sources suggested that Apple will eventually use four-core processors when they became available. Test units are currently running two 2.0, four 2.0, and eight 2.16 GHz configurations, all on 667 MHz busses.

Memory capacity will remain the same as current Power Macs, but with support for the faster RAM found in the new Intel Macs, for up to 16 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM. Sources say all test units have had 1 GB of memory, and that Apple may opt for a minimum gigabyte once the system goes on sale sometime later this year.

Performance reports are positive across the board. One reviewer said his four-core system felt faster than the G5 Quad by a factor of two, while other testers say improvements are in line with new MacBook Pro and iMac figures. And this is just for the current chips — Conroe, the next major Intel desktop chip, doubles the L2 cache and finally catches up with DDR2 SDRAM performance, as well as upping the clock speed.

Other notes on Hydra include built-in Bluetooth, AirPort Extreme, and SuperDrive, up to 1.25 terabyte of SATA storage, 64-bit support, and virtualization. We're compiling future reports as we speak, so stop back in for an update on the Mac Pro soon!

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