Intel leaks details of Mac Pro-bound Xeon chips

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Intel Corp. plans to launch its Penryn-based quad-core Xeon family of microprocessors on November 11, which may provide Apple with an opportunity to boost the specs of its high-end workstations ahead of the holiday shopping season.

A posting to the Santa Clara-based firm's reseller website briefly revealed launch plans for seven of the new Xeon chips — the successors to those used in Apple's Mac Pro desktops — before it was abruptly removed. The chip family, codenamed Harpertown, will range in speeds from 2.0GHz to 3.16GHz.

Each of the new processors will sport a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 80 watts, pack 12MB of Level 2 cache, and run on a 1333MHz front-side bus. The only exception is the high-end 3.16GHz chip, which was listed with a TDP of 120 watts.

According to the information listed on Intel's reseller site, the new chips will fetch between $209 for the 2.0GHz model to $1,172 for the 3.16GHz variant. In the sweet spot of the Xeon lineup — where Apple has historically chosen its standard Mac Pro processors — lies a 2.83GHz model priced at $690.

Penryn, the next iteration of Intel's Core 2 micro-architecture, will signify a shift by the chipmaker to 45-nanometer fabrication process. Both desktop and mobile Penryn chips are also in the works, though Intel has not yet provided any indication of their precise release dates.

Apple last updated its Mac Pro line of professional workstations in April when it added an 8-core configuration via two quad-core Xeon "Clovertown" chips. However, its entry level system with two dual-core "Woodcrest" processors has gone without an update since last August.


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