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Six and 12-core Mac Pro coming

HardMac reports on the new Intel Xeon Intel Core i7-Extreme (“i7-980X”), which should appear in a Mac Pro next year. But whether it will be January or March is unclear, and whether clock speeds faster than 3.33Ghz will be offered remains to be seen. Remember, none of this is official yet!

Most interesting as a practical matter is whether the new chip is any faster on a per-CPU basis (at the same clock speed), since very few programs can exploit today’s quad-core Mac Pro, which is already available at 3.33GHz. In other words, if you buy a 3.33GHz quad-core Mac Pro today, will the new 6-core model actually be any faster (since most cores go unused with most programs)? My guess is that the new chip might be a hair faster due to slighlty larger caches to support the six cores, and of course six cores will help with some specialty programs. Presumably the new model won’t be lower cost.

My recommendation remains the same: if you need a Mac Pro now, get a quad-core refurbished 2.66GHz model now for $2149 (faster speeds are a bit more). Consider it a “rental” — if you really must have a faster Mac next year, sell it and the net loss should be a small rental fee over the next few months.

The good news is that it appears that memory will remain at 1066MHz, which I hope means that the existing RAM will continue to work in the new Mac Pro, such as OWC’s 8GB memory modules.

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