Mac Pro Announced

I think Apple’s new Mac Pro desktops should just maybe squeak by as iMovie/iDVD/video editing machines… barely.

Oh come on, these are exactly the machines that people have been waiting for. Although it’s unlikely that someone would buy a Mac Pro just for editing in iMovie, they’re more than capable. Here’s what I wrote in TidBITS today (full article here):

Goodbye Power, Hello Pro — The Mac Pro shares the same aluminum enclosure as the Power Mac G5, but inside, it’s no mere speed bump. The Mac Pro is powered by two 64-bit, dual-core Intel Xeon 5100 series processors running at up to 3 GHz, with 4 MB of shared L2 cache per processor. Replacing the PowerPC G5’s AltiVec graphics processor is a 128-bit SSE3 vector engine that Apple claims is faster than its predecessor. Not surprisingly, Apple claims everything is faster on this machine, from performance per watt (3 times better than the Power Mac G5 Quad) to general usage (1.6 to 2.1 times faster).

The Mac Pro can accommodate up to 2 TB (terabytes) of hard drive storage in four internal Serial ATA hard drive bays, which are easily swappable in slide-in carriers (similar to the bays in the Xserve). Four PCI Express slots are available for further expansion, one of which is double-wide to accommodate today’s high-end graphics cards. There are also two bays for optical drives: a 16x SuperDrive comes standard, and the other bay can be configured with a second SuperDrive. Although Apple is emphasizing how convenient it can be to burn two discs at once, we suspect that the real reason for dual optical drives is preparation for including an internal Blu-ray or HD-DVD burner in the future. (Roxio recently announced Blu-ray burning support in the next version of Toast, and DVD Studio Pro already supports encoding HD-DVD discs.)

The Mac Pro is available now in a single configuration for a base price of $2,500, which includes dual 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors, 1 GB of 667 MHz DDR2 memory, an Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT graphics card with 256 MB of memory, a 16x SuperDrive, and a 250 GB SATA hard drive. Other options are available as build-to-order options, such as 2 GHz or 3 GHz processors, more memory (up to 16 GB), a second SuperDrive, more hard drives, and beefier graphics cards from Nvidia or ATI. Surprisingly, the base configuration does not include Bluetooth or AirPort Extreme wireless hardware (or a modem, but that’s been the case for several revisions of Apple’s desktop Macs).

Oh, and I’m beat. We’re not accustomed to throwing together content for an entire TidBITS issue in a day. It’s not as bad at Macworld Expo, when we’re already wired and at the event and ready to go. For today’s announcements (which also included the preview of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard), we didn’t know whether there would be a lot to write about or a little. I’m not seriously complaining, just reaffirming my choice not to become a daily newspaper writer. I have enormous respect for the guys and gals who do it, because it’s a talent I don’t have.

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