The Chipset

A very little talked about aspect of the new Mac Pro is the chipset used, which appears to be Intel's 5000X. The only other option is the Intel 5000P, but the 5000P only has x8 PCIe slots off of the MCH and thus it wouldn't make sense given that Apple is only really touting single GPU or multi-display configurations with the Mac Pro.

The 5000X is by no means a desktop chipset, it supports up to four FB-DIMM memory channels and has two independent 64-bit FSB interfaces, one for each Xeon socket. With two FSBs running at 1333MHz a piece, there's a total of 21.3GB/s of bandwidth between the chipset and the CPUs, which matches up perfectly with the 21.3GB/s of memory bandwidth offered if you populate all four FB-DIMM channels on the motherboard. Note that if you only use two FB-DIMMs, you'll only be running in two channel mode, which will limit you to 10.67GB/s of bandwidth. While we have yet to test it, there may be a performance penalty when running in two channel mode.

The 5000X MCH (the "System Controller") supports a total of 24 PCIe lanes, divided into one x16 and one x8. The x8 appears to connect to the ICH (labeled in the graphic above as the "I/O Controller") while the x16 is what drives the primary PCIe slot (the one that has enough room for a double height card).

The ICH have another 12 PCIe lanes coming off of it, and it looks like Apple splits them off into two x4s and one x1 for its remaining PCIe slots. Apple continues to exclusively use physical x16 slots, so each slot can be used by any sort of card (video card or not) rather than having x1 and x4 slots on the motherboard. Because of the Mac Pro's four x16 slots, you can order the system with up to four GeForce 7300GTs for some 8 monitor action.

The ICH used on the motherboard is what we believe to be Intel's 6321ESB and it supports up to 6 SATA devices and 2 PATA devices, which is where you get the expansion capabilities that are built into the system. You've got four SATA hard drive bays and support for up to two SuperDrives. Apple still relies on OS X to provide RAID support, so only RAID 0 and RAID 1 are supported through software.

CPU Analysis Understanding Fully Buffered DIMMs
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  • saneproductions - Sunday, August 27, 2006 - link

    I just picked up a 2.66 MP 2GB and got some SATA-eSATA PCI plates to route the 2 hidden SATA ports to my eSATA drive and it was a no go. I tried both having the drive powered up then booting (system hung at the gray screen) and powering on the drive after the MP was up and running (nothing happened). any ideas?

    Mike
    Reply
  • blwest - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    I received my Mac Pro last Friday afternoon. It's absolutely wonderful. It's also absolutely silent.

    The 7300 card also isn't that bad either. I could play World of Warcraft at 1600x1200 at reasonably high settings. Expose worked very smoothly, overall the system's performance screams in comparision to Windows XP. Running stock setup like on Anand's review.
    Reply
  • mycatsnameis - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    I see that Crucial is shipping 4 gig FB PC5400 DIMMs. I wonder if these can be used in a Mac Pro? In the past the max memory capacity that Apple has quoted (for pro or consumer machines) has generally been conservative and related more to the size of DIMMs that are generally available than any actual h/w limit. Reply
  • nitromullet - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    With boot camp and a Windows XP install, is the Mac Pro Crossfire capable? I don't imagine that OS X has drivers for that, but that wouldn't be the point anyway - use the Windows install for gaming and the OS X install for everything else... Reply
  • dcalfine - Saturday, August 12, 2006 - link

    I imagine that getting crossfire to work is a matter of simple firmware flashing. With SLI, the motherboard supports it, but the Mac OS doesn't. But because crossfire depends mostly on the crossfire card, flashing the card with Mac firmware, which often works with other cards, (see Strange Dog Forums, http://strangedogs.proboards40.com/index.cgi?board...">http://strangedogs.proboards40.com/index.cgi?board... should allow it to work. I'd be interested in trying this, if I had the funding.

    Apple should be doing something to get dual- or even quad-gpu solutions on macs, since now each mac pro is a quad-processor.
    Reply
  • tshen83 - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    Hey anandtech, the more interesting option for GPU is actually the QUAD 7300GT powering over 8 screens. I was wondering if Apple's OSX is able to push 3D or overlay stuff on all 8 screens like Linux could. Reply
  • michael2k - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    As far as I know, Apple's been able to do this for far longer than Linux could :) Reply
  • tshen83 - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    Hey anandtech, the more interesting option for GPU is actually the QUAD 7300GT powering over 8 screens. I was wondering if Apple's OSX is able to push 3D or overlay stuff on all 8 screens like Linux could. Reply
  • OddTSi - Thursday, August 10, 2006 - link

    Are there any plans for non-ad hoc, fast serial RAM or is Rambus the only one even attempting something like that with their new XDR memory? Reply
  • kobymu - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    There is QDR.... Reply

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