Mac Pro, new Xserve will feature dual Intel Xeons, will start shipping today

San Francisco (CA) - Attendees at today's Apple Worldwide Developers' Conference, some of which included bloggers posting live news direct from the floor, were introduced by Apple senior marketing vice president Phil Schiller to the latest and last Macintoshes to receive the Intel upgrade. The Mac Pro series is being launched today, according to floor reports, for prices starting at $2,499 for a 1 GB DDR2 system with 2.6 GHz processor and Apple's SuperDrive.

In a surprise - and a correction from news we'd received earlier - the Mac Pros will feature not Core 2 Duos, as many expected, but server-class Intel 5100 Xeon processors, officially bringing Mac Pro into the Woodcrest - not the Conroe - camp. The dual-processor, dual-core configuration will put four simultaneous cores in Apple's new top-of-the-line unit, replacing the former four-processor Power G5 in the "quad" category. (Initial reports of 256 MB RAM only seemed greatly underpowered for a Xeon system; the 1 GB figure has been corrected and verified.)

Sharing the stage with CEO Steve Jobs, Schiller reportedly said the new Mac Pros will be up to 2.1 times faster than the previous G5 quads.. Also included standard - confirming some of the more interesting rumors about these units - will be an Nvidia 7300GT graphics card. All Intel-based Macs announced to date have either used ATI Radeon graphics cards, or Intel integrated graphics for lower-end systems such as the Mac mini. ATI Radeon X1900XTs and Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 cards are being offered as higher-end alternatives.

There was considerable speculation last week that ATI's pending acquisition by Intel rival AMD would open up some new customers for Nvidia, Apple being one of them. Today's news confirms that speculation.

Also introduced today is the company's new line of Intel-based Xserve server units. While they too will utilize paired Xeons, there are apparently some physical advances for that product line, including "snap in" hard drives whose operation the floor reporters have yet to explain. Prices will start at $2,999. More updates to follow.

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