Apple Mac Pro Goes Eight-Core; Google Desktop Goes Mac

The eight-core workstation, which Apple announced on its Web site Wednesday as a build-to-order unit, houses two 3.0 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5300 "Clovertown" processors. It features 8 Mbytes of L2 cache per processor (16 Mbytes total), a 128-bit SSE3 vector engine, 64-bit data paths and registers, and 1.33 GHz, 64-bit dual independent front-side buses.

Quad-core Mac Pros sport two Dual-Core Intel Xeon 5100 "Woodcrest" processors at speeds of 2.0 GHz, 2.66 GHz or 3.0 GHz, with 4 Mbytes of shared L2 cache per processor (8 Mbytes total).

All Mac Pro units have 667MHz DDR2 ECC fully buffered DIMM memory (eight slots for 16 Gbytes maximum), four 3Gb/s Serial ATA hard-drive bays for up to 3 Tbytes of storage, and two optical-drive bays for 16x SuperDrives with double-layer support (DVD+R DL, DVD+/-RW, CD-RW). Connections include two FireWire 800 ports, two FireWire 400 ports, five USB 2.0 ports and two 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet interfaces.

In addition, there are four PCI Express slots (with support for 16-lane cards), one of which contains an Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT, ATI Radeon X1900 XT or Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 graphics card, for support of up to eight displays. Optional wireless networking includes 802.11n AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate (up to 3Mb/s).

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The standard configuration Mac Pro, priced at $2,499, comes with two 2.66 GHz dual-core Xeons, 1 Gbyte of memory, an Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT graphics card (256 Mbytes of memory), a 250-Gbyte Serial ATA hard drive and a SuperDrive. The same configuration with two 3.0 GHz quad-core Xeons runs $3,997.

The beefed-up Mac Pro is coming out at an opportune time for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple.

Late last month, Adobe Systems rolled out its Creative Suite 3 (CS3) product line, which includes native Intel Mac versions of its flagship Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator design software, among other applications. A number of Apple VARs have said customers have held off purchases of new Macs until the Intel Mac-native CS3 offerings became available.

And this spring, Apple plans to ship "Leopard," its first major upgrade of the Mac OS X operating system since the company switched Macs from PowerPC to Intel chips. The Leopard and CS3 releases have some Apple VARs expecting a burst of new hardware sales.

In other Apple news, Google on Wednesday unveiled Google Desktop For The Mac, a version of its popular desktop and Web search utility for the Macintosh.

The free download, currently in beta, enables Mac users to search their hard drives, the Web and e-mail, including Google Gmail. It runs on PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs and works with the Safari, Firefox and Camino Web browsers, according to Google.