In June of last year, Apple announced that it would migrate all of its systems to Intel platforms by its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in 2007. Earlier this week Apple announced that the transition was complete, finalized by announcing the brand new Intel based Mac Pro and Xserve systems for professional workstation and server customers respectively. A full year ahead of "schedule", very few expected to take until 2007 to complete the transition considering the x86 version of OS X had been in development in parallel with the PowerPC version for the past 6 years.

It's been a long and not always as exciting road, going from the PowerPC G4 and G5 based systems to the new Core Duo and Xeon based Macs. Externally, little has changed with the new Macs, but on the inside these things are full blown PCs running Mac OS X. The entire transition has honestly been quite impressive on Apple's part, as switching CPU architectures this seamlessly is not easy to do.

We've looked at previous Intel based Macs, the MacBook Pro and the new iMac, and generally have come away quite pleased with the move to Intel. There are still some hiccups here and there, mostly thanks to applications from companies like Adobe and Microsoft that have yet to provide Universal Binary support but for the most part the end user isn't aware that Apple's OS and software have gone through dramatic changes over the past year.

We will be bringing you full coverage of the new Mac Pro, including a complete review of the system compared to other PCs as well as its predecessors, however we found ourselves talking a lot about the specs of the new Mac Pro that we decided to put that discussion in an article before our review goes live. We're still awaiting our review sample and hope to begin testing in the coming weeks, but until then there are a number of items worth discussing about the new Mac Pro. We'll examine the price impact of Apple's choice of Xeon over Core 2 processors, fully explain FB-DIMMs and what they mean to you, as well as talk about the chipset, graphics and storage options on the new platform (while offering some cheaper alternatives to Apple's Build-to-Order upgrades).

Unlike the outgoing PowerMac G5, the Mac Pro only ships in one standard configuration with the following specs:

 
 
Apple Mac Pro

CPU

2 x Intel Xeon 5150 Processors 2.66GHz

Memory

2 x 512MB DDR2-667 ECC FB-DIMM
Graphics
NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT
Hard Drive
1 x 250GB SATA 3Gbps
Optical
1 x SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD+-RW/CD-RW)
Price
$2499 ($2299 with Educational Discount)

The point of this article is to help those of you ordering today, analyze and understand the specs, as well as provide some of the necessary background information for our review that will follow in the coming weeks. Without further ado, let's talk about one of the most important aspects of the new Mac Pro: the CPUs.

CPU Analysis
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  • vladik007 - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    Flashing PC video cards to work on G5 was possible and in my own experience also rock solid. I have 2 G5;s at home ( one 2.0Ghz very 1st released ) and 2.7ghz. PNY 6800 GT with 2120 firmware has worked for over a year now and ZERO crashes in that time in both of them.

    So if PC videocards will NOT work in Mac Pro by just simply sliding in , firmware flashing will.
    Reply
  • ViRGE - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    Anand, has Apple/Nvidia/ATI commented on what video card compatibility will be like with the Mac Pros over the PowerMacs? With the PowerMacs, PC video cards were incompatible due to OpenFirmware and more importantly endian issues. The Mac Pro however is EFI and not OpenFirmware, and there are no endian issues, which gives everyone a lot of hope that the system may be able to take on vanilla 7900's and the like.

    Has anyone said anything on this matter going one way or another?
    Reply
  • blwest - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    I'll know tonight when I try to slap my 7800gt into the box! Reply
  • artifex - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    He never came back... maybe he blew up his new Mac Pro? Reply
  • archcommus - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    Given that this hardware is just like a PC and 100% x86, and given that the new OS X is designed to run on that hardware, what is REALLY the obstacle in getting OS X to run on our own Windows and Linux machines? Reply
  • Missing Ghost - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    yep OSX does not use the bios. It needs efi Reply
  • AaronAxvig - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    They still have the EFI boot system, no? Reply
  • mrgq912 - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    Back when Apple made they announcement that they were going to switch from power pc to intel cpus. I thought why intel and not amd? Now it seems that Intel must have shown them what their new hardware is capable of, and Apple didn't even need to think twice about the move. Good call by apple.

    But I still won't buy closed system like Mac pro.
    Reply
  • hmurchison - Thursday, August 10, 2006 - link

    Please don't take offense to this but that was really a silly statement. Back in the days when you had differing hardware between Macs and PCs you could say the Mac was more closed. Nowadays you have the ability to run OS X, Windows and Linux simultaneously and a lot of hardware will just plug and play with the appropriae minidrivers in the OS. Reply
  • mrgq912 - Saturday, August 12, 2006 - link

    none taken. i didn't know that mac pros allowed you to switch video cards and memory. I always wanted to use the mac os for every day use, and have windows for games and such. But now the only thing stopping me is the price. Reply

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