For those who have been waiting for new Mac desktops to land, Apple has one message: eight is great. Last week the company added an 8-core Intel Xeon processor configuration to the Mac Pro. The 8-core Mac Pro relies on two “Clovertown” 3.0 GHz quad-core Xeon 5300 series processors, available as a custom option when assembling a system at the online Apple Store for $1,500 more than the default configuration of a pair of dual-core Xeons. Each processor features 8 MB of L2 cache (16 MB total), 128-bit SSE3 vector engine, and 64-bit data paths and registers. Otherwise, the specifications for the Mac Pro remain essentially the same as the quad-core configurations that are still available, including up to 3 TB of internal storage (increased from 2 TB thanks to Apple selling 750 GB drives), up to 16 GB of RAM, and a 16x SuperDrive with double-layer support.
If you’re wondering what difference eight cores makes to performance, you’re not alone. Apple has not updated its benchmark listings for the new configuration, and the company didn’t even issue a press release for the new Mac Pro. Macworld quotes an Apple spokesperson as saying that the new option for the Mac Pro gives software developers a platform from which they can prepare their applications for a future when eight-core technology is more prevalent. Our question: Is this really a custom Mac for Adobe’s development team to ensure that the CPU-hungry Photoshop and friends will be able to chow down on eight cores in a forthcoming major update to the Mac Pro?