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Apple's updated Mac Pro, iMac rumored to have USB 3.0, faster FireWire

Apple will update its Mac Pro desktop at the end of this summer, and its all-in-one iMac a few weeks later, adding both USB 3.0 and faster FireWire connectivity to the machines, a new rumor states.

French Mac website Hardmac reported Friday that Apple aims to update the desktops in time for its back to school sales period. The report cited one of the site's "better sources" in relaying the information.

"On this occasion, Apple should inaugurate two great innovations, the arrival of USB 3.0 and a faster FireWire interface, 1600 or 3200," they wrote. "Thus, FireWire will not be forgotten. Note that Apple is also interested in LightPeak technology, but they do not expect to use it or set it up before one year."

Finally, the report also said that the new hardware will not support Blu-ray discs. That news should come as no surprise to those who have heard Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs' assessment of the format. Jobs was recently alleged to have said that the physical medium's days are dying, and will give way to digital download services like iTunes.

The USB 3.0 specification was in Apple's hands over a year ago. The new standard will be ten times faster than the current Hi-Speed USB standard (USB 2.0), and also more power-efficient, leading to lower active and idle power requirements. Like its predecessor, USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices.

Rumors of a new Mac Pro have persisted for all of 2009, with Apple expected to adopt Intel's Gulftown processor, the 32nm Core i7-980X with six cores. The chips have 12MB of L3 cache. Apple usually doubles the processors in its high-end professional workstations, so it's possible the new Mac Pro system could have a total of 12 cores and 24 threads.

The last major refresh to the Mac Pro equipped it with its Nehalem Xeon processors, with a high-end eight-core Mac Pro offering two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5500 chips. Last year, Apple quietly upgraded that to a potential maximum 2.93GHz eight-core system.

Last October, Apple updated its iMac desktop line, redesigning the hardware with a new edge-to-edge glass design and seamless all-aluminum enclosure. The LED-backlit iMacs come in screen sizes of 21.5 inches and 27 inches.