Apple Mac Pros Sport Up to 12 Processor Cores

Apple‘s high-end Mac Pro line of desktop towers have always been aimed at the high-end content-creation and media-editing community, eschewing everyday consumer processors and going straight for the Intel Xeon hardware that normally run powerful servers. However, despite the Mac Pro’s power, Apple neglected the line for over a year and a half as it focussed on its consumer offerings; however, the company today announced new Mac Pros that push out to as many as 12 processor cores—using Intel’s 32nm Westmere EP versions of the Xeon—and offer a huge variety of graphics, storage, and configuration options sure to keep the deep-walleted happy.

“The new Mac Pro is the most powerful and configurable Mac we’ve ever made,” said Apple’s senior VP for worldwide product marketing Philip Schiller, in a statement. “With up to 12 cores, the new Mac Pro outperforms our previous top-of-the-line system by up to 50 percent, and with over a billion possible configurations, our customers can create exactly the system they want.”

Unless, of course, they want that system to be inexpensive.

The Mac Pros are built around Intel’s quad-core and six-core INtel Xeon processors, running at speeds up to 3.33 GHz. The Mac Pros come standard with AT Radeon HD 5770 graphics with 1 GB of video memory, and can upgrade to ATI Radeon HD 5870 with 1GB of video memory. For the first time Apple is making Mac Pros available with SSD drives: 512 GB drives will be available, and with four drive bays users can pack in a ton of SSD storage. The Mac Pros also feature two Mini DisplayPort outputs (which can be converted to DVI or VGA as needed) along with a dual-link DVI ports. The systems offer four PCI Express 2.0 slots (these are Apple’s only systems with available PCI slots), 18×DVD±RW Super Multi drives), five USB 2.0 ports, four FireWire 800 ports, along with 802.11n and Bluetooth wireless networking.

The starter Mac Pro configuration for $2,499 will includes a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Xeon W3530 processor, 1 GB of RAM, a 1 TB SATA hard drive, and the ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics. Stepping up to $3,499 puts in two 2.4 GHz quad-core Xeon E5620 processors and 6 GB of RAM. Of course, the built-to-order customization options are the heart of the Mac Pro line: options scale all the way up to two 6-core Xeon X5670 processors, 32 GB of RAM, up to four 2 TB SATA drives, RAID capabilities, Fibre Channel cards, and two of those 18× DVD±RW drives.

The new Mac Pros will be available in August.

Apple also took the wraps off a new 27-inch LED Cinema Display boasting a 2,560 by 1,440-pixel resolution, integrated iSight camera, three USB parts, and an integrated MagSafe charger to keep Apple notebook computers charged. The display also includes an ambient light sensor to adjust brightness dynamically depending on the surrounding conditions, and uses mercury-free LED backlighting along with arsenic-free glass to chalk up some eco-friendly credentials. It should ship in September for $999.

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