Given that Apple hadn't updated its Mac Pro workstation since August 2010, many believed that the 40 pound desktop behemoth was getting ready to be axed from the lineup. However, following today's WWDC 2010 keynote speech, Apple quietly updated the workstation with some new components.
But if you were expecting a major upgrade, you're likely to be seriously disappointed.
The focus of the upgrade today was centered around the CPUs. The aging pair of six-core 2.93GHz Intel Xeon X5670 processors of the high-end model have been replaced with the slightly beefier six-core 3.06GHz Intel Xeon X5675. As standard, this model comes with two 2.4GHx six-core Xeons, 12GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive, and will cost you $3,799.
You can configure for yourself a dual-processor Mac Pro system that's fully loaded with 64Gb of RAM and four 2TB hard drives, but this monster system does however come with the monster price tag of $9,199.
Graphics for the Mac Pro are powered by ATI's Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB GDDR5, which, while it might be an adequate graphics chip, is hardly cutting-edge. In fact, if you wanted to pick up a graphics card with a similar spec for a PC it would only cost you about $115. This somehow doesn't seem fitting inside a system that could cost you almost $10,000.
If you want something a little more modest, then you can pick up a single-processor Mac Pro with a 3.2GHz quad-core processor, 6GB of RAM and 1TB of storage for $2,499. The graphics on this model is also powered by the ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB GDDR5.
Despite this update, I still believe that the Mac Pro is on borrowed time. The upgrades offered here are marginal at best. The processors might have be updated, but the graphics card remains the same. Also, while Apple is enthusiastically adding Thunderbolt support to most of its Macs, its top-end desktop workstation still remains oddly -- and rather conspicuously -- Thunderbolt-free.
The Mac Pro update feels tokenistic at best, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last refresh this system sees before being retired.