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Friday, June 09, 2006, 03:45 am PT (06:45 am ET)

Apple\'s Mac Pro to sport twin engines?

Come this August, Apple Computer chief executive Steve Jobs is expected to stand before an antsy crowd of the most loyal Mac OS X developers and announce that in just over a year, the company has successfully transitioned its entire Macintosh line from PowerPC to Intel processors.

The 2006 Apple World Wide Developers Conference will run from August 7th through the 11th — about two months later than usual. For the most part, Apple will use the annual developer gathering to lay out its plans for Leopard, the next incarnation of the Mac OS operating system, which is poised to do battle with rival Microsoft Corp's Windows Vista.

But when it comes to battling for headlines, Leopard may have its work cut out for it — sources maintain that around precisely the same time, Mr. Jobs will also take the wraps off Apple's most powerfully stunning Macintosh to date: the Mac Pro.

Aside from speculation that the Intel-based Power Mac successor would conform to Intel Corp's "Core" architecture, there have been few reports about the machine. Until recently, Apple's professional line of desktop computers stood at the pinnacle of its product portfolio, showcasing both the Mac's beauty and its brawn.

In speaking with AppleInsider, people familiar with the Cupertino-based company's plans have affirmed that the Mac Pro will indeed employ chips from Intel's forthcoming architecture. However, it's still unclear precisely which processors these will be. That's because, just like the Power Mac G5 Quad, these people say Apple and Intel somehow plan to wedge two high-end dual-core chips into some Mac Pros.

The systems have been under development since last October, when Apple passed off the motherboard design to Intel's Oregon division. With its resources already stretched thin on the transition of four other Macs, Apple turned to the world's largest chipmaker for expertise in developing its first Intel board for professional users.

Still, many questions remain — like exactly how Apple will fashion the Pro machines aesthetically.

According to reports, the first motherboard prototypes to come out of Intel Oregon were noticeably compact, suggesting the Mac Pro would represent a radical departure from the obtrusive enclosures of Power Mac G5. However, well-placed sources have since said that plans to size-down the Mac Pro's board were almost immediately scrapped.

The last prototypes Mac Pro motherboards to be observed by sources were approximately "the same size" as the board in Apple's aluminum G5s, they said.