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Thursday, February 11, 2010, 03:20 pm PT (06:20 pm ET)

Apple releases fix for Mac Pro audio-based performance issues

Apple Thursday afternoon released a fix for an issue that would significantly decrease the performance of 2009-era Mac Pros with Nehalem-based Intel Xeon processors.

The issue, well-publicized just over a week ago, caused a 20 percent performance hit when playing audio in Mac OS X. Playing audio through iTunes or a number of other applications could also cause CPU temperatures to double.

To address the problem, Apple released "Mac Pro Audio Update 1.0." The 1.64MB update, available for download from Apple, requires Mac OS X 10.6.2 or later.

While previous reports claimed the issue applied to Mac Pros released in both early and late 2009, Apple said Thursday's update was for desktop systems released in the first half of the year. The update reportedly reduces processor utilization during audio activities, such as playing or recording music.

Various user test found that running Windows 7 via Boot Camp eliminated the issue, leading some to believe the issue is related to power management kernel extensions in Mac OS X.

Apple's Mac Pros with Intel Xeon processors based on the Nehalem architecture were introduced in March 2009. in December, Apple added a 3.33GHz quad-core option.

Recent reports have suggested Intel's new six-core "Gulftown" processor could be headed to the Mac Pro in a future upgrade. Apple could stick with the workstation-focused Xeon line of chips, though some rumors have suggested Apple could switch to the new Core i7-980X processor, based on the same architecture.