New Apple Hardware Debuts Ahead of Macworld
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Apple added two powerful systems to its lineup Tuesday ahead of the Macworld Expo conference set for next week in San Francisco where new Apple hardware is typically unveiled.
Rumors have circulated for weeks that Apple is planning to debut an ultraportable computer at the show, so perhaps Tuesday's news is meant to save the spotlight for that and other announcements.
In any case, the new systems are significant additions to the Mac line.
Fastest Mac Ever
The Mac Pro got a major performance boost in its latest incarnation. Apple is billing the new Mac Pro as the fastest Mac it's ever made thanks to the inclusion of two Intel Quad-Core Xeon processors running up to 3.2 GHz. A standard 8-core configuration is priced starting at $2,799.
Other standard features include an ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card with 256 MB of memory and a new PCI Express 2.0 graphics slot the company said delivers up to twice the bandwidth of its previous generation.
Support is also included for the latest generation of graphics cards from NVIDIA such as the GeForce 8800 with 512MB of video memory. With support for up to four graphic cards the Mac Pro can drive up to eight 30-inch displays at once.
While the typical office user won't need all those displays, Apple mentioned advanced visualization and large display walls as potential applications.
The Mac Pro comes with Leopard, the latest version of the Mac OS X operating system.
The latest Mac Pro is also the most expandable one Apple's offered, with four internal hard drive bays with direct-attach, cable-free installation of up to four 1 Terabyte Serial ATA hard drives.
Users have the option to connect external devices to the front or back of the system which includes five USB 2.0, two FireWire 400, two FireWire 800, optical and analog audio in and out and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as a headphone jack. Apple also offers a number of build-to-order options for more memory, storage and peripherals like the Apple wireless Aluminum keyboard.
Serving up Quad Core
The other new hardware is Apple's latest Xserve, which the company said can run as much as twice as fast as its predecessor. The 1U rack-optimized server has up to two Quad Core 3.0 GHz Intel Xeon processors for 8 core's of performance and includes an unlimited client license for Mac OS X Server Leopard.
Priced at $2,999, Xserve also sports faster front side buses, faster memory, up to 3 Terabytes of internal storage and two PCI Express 2.0 expansion slots. Specifically, the server's new high-bandwidth architecture includes two 1600 MHz front side buses and up to 32GB of 800 MHz DDR2 ECC FB-DIMM memory for up to a 64 percent increase in memory throughput.
The standard configuration, starting at $2,999, includes a single 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Xeon, with 12 MB of L2 cache and a 1600 front side bus.
Apple marketing executive Philip Schiller said the Xserve's power, storage and server software "make it ideal for supporting Mac clients and mixed platform workgroups."