Mac Pro Update to Feature 8-core Xeon E5 Processors?

The latest rumors suggest that Apple’s alleged update to its Mac Pro workstation desktop will be powered by Intel’s Xeon E5 series of CPUs and will also feature support for USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt out of the box.

AppleInsider earlier revealed a list of part numbers of Apple products that are due to be shipped to Australia. Sitting at the top end of the price scale in this list are three items with the K5B codename, which are believed to be the three configurations of the Mac Pro that are due to be unveiled at next week’s World Wide Developers’ Conference.

According to MIC Gadget, the Mac Pro refresh will have eight channels of 1600MHz RAM, support for SATA 3/SAS 6-gigabyte-per-second hard drives and native compatibility with PCI-Express 3 video cards.

Unfortunately, Apple is believed to have passed over the newer Ivy Bridge-based Xeons in favor of the Sandy Bridge-E Xeons. The report says the 22nm Ivy Bridge chips “handle voltage far worse” than their older, 32nm brethren – potentially fatal for systems that are expected to run for inordinately long stretches of time as servers or professional workstations.

Intel has also apparently forced Apple’s hand here: the chip manufacturing giant was late in releasing its Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, and the only Ivy Bridge Xeons that have been released are the quad-core E3 processors. In contrast, the Sandy Bridge-E has 6-core and 8-core versions that would certainly look much better as a marketing bullet point.

The rumored update will come as a welcome reprieve for users of Apple’s aging current Mac Pro, which hasn’t seen a significant change in its internal components since being launched in 2010.