Are Intel’s powerful server-class Xeon processors coming to the new iMac Pros?

apple rumored to use server class xeon processors in imac pro intel new 2017 thermal

Apple recently introduced new iMac Pro all-in-one PCs that will be taking their place near the top of the company’s MacOS lineup. The new iMac Pro machines will be some of Apple’s best-performing machines when they’re released at the end of the year, and they’ll serve as a stopgap until the company rolls out the next generation of the high-end Mac Pro.

While Apple has provided some generation specifications for the iMac Pro, it didn’t go into that much detail on precisely which components the new machines would utilize. While we know that Intel’s Xeon processors will be on tap, rumor has it that, in fact, the iMac Pro will use the upcoming server-class Skylake-EX and Skylake-EP processors code-named Purley, as 9to5Mac reports.

The information comes via Pike’s Universum, which looked into the firmware files embedded in the latest MacOS High Sierra beta. According to that data, the iMac Pro will run Intel’s next-generation server CPUs on the LGA3647 socket rather than the more pedestrian, desktop-level LGA 2066 socket.

In addition, the new iMac Pro might be equipped with a specialized co-processor aimed at powering a new Apple Secure Boot feature. The Security Enclave Processor is the same one that’s used for the MacBook Pro’s TouchID feature, but there’s no information yet on whether the iMac Pro will also support Apple’s fingerprint-scanning login feature.

As a reminder, Apple will be starting the iMac Pro at $4,999, with a fairly powerful set of minimum specifications:

  • Retina 5K display
  • 8-core Intel Xeon processor
  • Radeon Vega graphics
  • 32GB ECC RAM
  • 1TB SSD
  • Thunderbolt 3
  • 10Gb Ethernet

The high end is even more extreme, with up to an 18-core Xeon CPU, up to 128GB of ECC RAM, up to 4TB SSD storage, and a Radeon Vega GPU with up to 22 Teraflops of half-precision performance. All of the machines will sport four Thunderbolt 3 that can drive up to 44 million pixels of external display and two external drive enclosures.

Clearly, Apple intends to increase its competitiveness in the high-end workstation market after losing some ground with the long delays in updating its desktop MacOS machines. While the company still anticipates releasing a new line of Mac Pro machines at some point, the new iMac Pro will ably fill the gap in the meantime.