Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Apple updates the Mac Pro

And wow what an update this turns out to be. $2300 gets you a 2.8GHz quad-core system. $2800 gets you an 8-core system. This is power that, only a few short years ago, would've cost tens of thousands of dollars. When you consider that my 2002-era Mac (dual 1GHz PowerPC G4) cost $3000, we've come a long way.

Details follow

The base configuration, as bundled into boxes in stores, and selling for $2800, consists of:

  • Two quad-core 2.8GHz Intel Xeon chips (1600MHz, 64-bit dual independent FSBs)
  • 2GB of RAM (two 1G DDR2 ECC FB-DIMMs, leaving 6 empty sockets)
  • A 320GB 7200 RPM SATA-2 hard drive.
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256M video (with two dual-link DVI ports)
  • A 16x "SuperDrive" (Dual-layer DVD+/-RW)
  • USB keyboard and mouse (including a 2-port USB 2.0 hub in the keyboard)
  • Two GigE network ports
  • Bluetooth 2.0 EDR (up to 3Mb/s)
  • 4 FireWire ports (2 at 400Mbps, 2 at 800Mbps)
  • 5 USB 2.0 ports
  • Audio in/out (optical, line-level, and mic/headphone)
  • Mac OS X 10.5
  • Apple's iLife application suite

Various build-to-order options (available from Apple's web-store) include:

  • Processor choices:
    • Downgrade to one quad-core Xeon (instead of two) at 2.8GHz for $500 less
    • Upgrade to 3.0GHz for $800 more
    • Upgrade to 3.2GHz for $1600 more
  • More memory. Up to 32GB. Note that it's pretty expensive. I'm not sure how much of this is Apple's (frequently expensive) fault, and how much is because FB-DIMMs are simply expensive parts.
  • A hardware RAID interface, including a battery backed-up cache.
  • Hard drive options - 4 bays with up to 1TB in each bay.
  • Video options:
    • Up to 4 Radeon 2600XT cards - one in each PCI Express slot
    • NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT with 512M (with two dual-link DVI ports)
    • NVIDIA Quadro FV 5600 with 1.5GB (with two dual-link DVI ports and a stereo 3D port)
  • Displays (20", 23" or 30"). You can, of course, use any DVI- or VGA-based display, not just Apple's.
  • A second SuperDrive
  • 802.11 pre-n Wi-Fi interface
  • Dual- or quad-channel FibreChannel interface (for attaching an external RAID chassis)
  • Modem
  • Bluetooth keyboard/mouse instead of the USB ones
  • AppleCare (extends warrantee to 3 years) for $250

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