Rummage around in beta software, and you’ll often pull out something interesting that you weren’t meant to find. That’s exactly what Twitter user Brendan Shanks has been doing, as spotted by MacRumors, to discover it contains mention of Ice Lake SP Xeon processors, and Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman was able to confirm there will be one last Intel Mac Pro before the cheesegrater-esque tower succumbs to the charms of Apple Silicon, but didn’t reveal his source. For now take the news with a pinch of salt.
Bloomberg has previously reported that there are two versions of the Mac Pro in development, one with Intel chips, and another, half the size, using Apple Silicon. Ice Lake SP is Intel’s third generation Xeon Scalable Processor, and offers an average 1.46x performance improvement over the previous generation, with up to 28 cores per socket, PCIE 4.0, and support for up to 6TB of RAM per socket. Apple has a history of using multiple sockets in its top-end machines, though this hasn’t been seen since mid-2012 and the dual Westmere EP Xeon option.
We’re reminded of when Apple’s Snow Leopard operating system contained support for Atom chips, which definitely meant Apple netbooks were coming, only for it to be patched out in a point release. It’s entirely possible there will be another Intel Mac Pro, especially as the new case design hasn’t been out for long, but with M1 giving an i9 a hard time in Geekbench scores, and rumors of M1X or M2 swirling, it does seem a touch odd and will need a clear target market. Apple always keeps its thoughts to itself, however, so we’ll have to wait for an announcement, maybe at the September 2021 iPhone event, or maybe sooner.