|Release date||August 7, 2006 (original release)
June 11, 2012 (current model)
|CPU||Intel Xeon "Nehalem" (current quad-core)
Intel Xeon "Westmere" (current 6-, 8- and 12-core)
Intel Xeon "Harpertown" (second release)
Intel Xeon "Woodcrest" (original release)
|Website||Mac Pro website|
The Mac Pro is an Intel Xeon-based workstation computer manufactured by Apple Inc. The Mac Pro, in most configurations, is the fastest computer that Apple offers, and is one of three desktop computers in the current Macintosh lineup, the other two being the iMac and Mac Mini. The machine is also the basis for the Mac Pro Server, which bundles the Mac Pro hardware with Mac OS X Server as a replacement for the Xserve line of servers.
Outwardly, the Mac Pro resembles the last version of the Power Mac G5, and has similar expansion capabilities. An Intel-based replacement for those machines had been expected for some time before the Pro was formally announced on August 7, 2006 at the annual Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference. The first Mac Pro was based on dual Dual-core Xeon Woodcrest processors. This was replaced by a dual Quad-core Xeon Clovertown model on April 4, 2007, and again on January 8, 2008 by a dual Quad-core Xeon Harpertown model.
The current model Mac Pro was announced on July 27, 2010 and features Intel Xeon processors based on the Nehalem/Westmere architectures. A "speed bumped" version was released in 2012. These systems offer options of up to 12 processing cores, up to four optional 2TB hard disk drives/512GB solid state drives and ATI Radeon HD 5770/5870 graphics.
The original 2006 Mac Pro and its 2007 update are not officially supported to run OS X Mountain Lion, which will only run on 2008 and newer Mac Pros. However, people have had success booting Mountain Lion on early Mac Pros using newer video cards and the Chameleon bootloader.
Similar to the Power Mac G5. An Intel-based replacement for the Power Mac G5 had long been expected prior to the release of the Mac Pro. The iMac, Mac Mini, MacBook and MacBook Pro had moved to an Intel-based architecture starting in January 2006, leaving the Power Mac G5 as the only machine in the Mac lineup still based on the PowerPC. Speculation about the G5's eventual replacement was common. Rumors initially expected the machine to differ physically from the existing G5 and considered a number of different possible internal configurations based on different chipsets, but the coincidence of Intel releasing a new Core 2-based Xeon workstation platform just prior to the 2006 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) made it fairly obvious that the resulting machine would be based on it. Even the naming was "obvious"; Apple had dropped the term "Power" from the other machines in their lineup, and started using "Pro" on their higher-end laptop offerings. As such, the name "Mac Pro" was widely used before the machine was announced.
The Mac Pro is a workstation similar to other Unix workstations such as those previously manufactured by Sun Microsystems. Although the high-end technical market has not traditionally been an area of strength for Apple, the company has been positioning itself as a leader in non-linear digital editing for high-definition video, which demands storage and memory far in excess of a general desktop machine. Additionally, the codecs used in these applications are generally processor intensive and highly threadable, speeding up almost linearly with additional processor cores. Apple's previous machine aimed at this market, the Power Mac G5, had up to two dual-core processors, but lacked the storage expansion capabilities of the newer design.
In general, the Mac Pro has been well received in the press. The combination of high performance, reasonable expandability, very quiet operation and the quality of its mechanical design makes it routinely appear as the comparison system against which other systems are measured. The Xeon platform is, however, Intel's “high end” system and not aimed at more general purpose use. Nevertheless, current-generation Xeons are priced competitively with their high-end desktop platforms, allowing Apple to sell a very powerful system at prices that are considered quite competitive, even by reviewers who do not normally review Apple systems.
Original marketing materials for the Mac Pro generally referred to the middle-of-the-line model with 2 × dual-core 2.66 GHz processors. Previously, Apple featured the base model with the words "starting at" or "from" when describing the pricing, but the online Apple Store listed the "Mac Pro at $2499", the price for the mid-range model. The base model could be configured at US$2299, much more comparable with the former base-model dual-core G5 at US$1999, although offering considerably more processing power. Post revision, the default configurations for the Mac Pro includes one quad-core Xeon 3500 at 2.66 GHz or two quad-core Xeon 5500s at 2.26 GHz each.
Production of Mac Pro was set to end in Europe beginning in 2013-03-01 after an amendment to a safety regulation left the professional Mac incompliant. Last day to order was set to 2013-02-18.
- The specifications below are from Apple's "tech specs" page or developer notes, except where noted.
The current Mac Pro is available with one or two processors with options giving four, eight, or twelve cores. As an example the eight core standard configuration Mac Pro uses two Quad core x8 Intel E5620007 Xeon processors @2.4 GHz, but can be configured with two Hexacore Core Intel Xeon Processor X5670 @2.93 GHz. All current Mac Pros have processors supporting Hyper-Threading which allows two threads to run on each core. The four core versions come with 8 MB of Intel Smart cache (L3 cache) while all others come with 12 MB for each processor. All current Mac Pro processors are capable of Intel's Turbo Boost technology, which dynamically boosts the clock rate of a core in intervals of 133 MHz if the CPU temperature is below average conditions.
The original Mac Pro's main memory used 667 MHz DDR2 ECC FB-DIMMs; the early 2008 model used 800 MHz ECC DDR2 FB-DIMMS, the current Mac Pro uses 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC DIMMs for the standard models, and 1333 MHz DDR3 ECC DIMMs for systems configured with 2.66 GHz or faster processors. In the original and 2008 models, these modules are installed in pairs, one each on two riser cards. The cards have 4 DIMM slots each, allowing a total of 32 GB of memory (8 × 4 GB) to be installed. Notably, due to its FB-DIMM architecture, installing more RAM in the Mac Pro will improve its memory bandwidth, but may also increase its memory latency. With a simple install of a single FB-DIMM the peak bandwidth is 8 GBB/s, but this can increase to 16 GB/s by installing two FB-DIMMs, one on each of the two buses, which is the default configuration from Apple. While electrically the FB-DIMMs are standard, for pre-2009 Mac Pro models Apple specifies larger-than-normal heatsinks on the memory modules. Problems have been reported by users who have used third party RAM with normal size FB-DIMM heatsinks. (see notes below). 2009 and later Mac Pro computers do not require memory modules with heatsinks.
Hard drives 
The Mac Pro has room for four internal 3.5" SATA-300 hard drives in 4 internal "bays". The hard drives are mounted on individual trays (also known as 'sleds') by captive screws. A set of four drive trays is supplied with each machine. Adding hard drives to the system does not require cables to be attached as the drive is connected to the system simply by inserting it in the corresponding drive slot. A case lock on the back of the system locks the disks trays into their positions.
The Mac Pro also supports Serial ATA solid-state drives (SSD) in the 4 hard drive bays via an SSD-to-hard drive sled adapter (mid-2010 models and later), and via 3rd-party solutions for earlier models (e.g., via an adapter/bracket which plugs into an unused PCIe slot). Various 2.5-inch SSD drive capacities and configurations are available as an option on new machines.
The Mac Pro is also available with an optional hardware RAID card. With the addition of a SAS controller card or SAS RAID controller card, SAS drives can be directly connected to the system's SATA ports.
The Mac Pro has one PATA port and can support two PATA devices in the optical drive bays. It has a total of six SATA ports – four are connected to the system's drive bays, and two are not connected. These extra SATA ports can be put into service through the use of after-market extender cables to connect internal optical drives, or to provide eSATA ports with the use of an eSATA bulkhead connector. However, the two extra SATA ports are currently unsupported and disabled under Boot Camp.
Expansion cards 
For internal expansion the current Mac Pro has four PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 expansion slots. The 2008 model had two PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 expansion slots and two PCI Express 1.1 slots, providing them with up to 300 W of power in total. The first slot is double wide and intended to hold the main video card, arranged with an empty area the width of a normal card beside it to leave room for the large coolers modern cards often use. In most machines, one slot would be blocked by the cooler. Instead of the tiny screws typically used to fasten the cards to the case, in the Mac Pro a single "bar" holds the cards in place, which is itself held in place by two "captive" thumbscrews that can be loosened by hand without tools and will not fall out of the case.
The PCIe slots can be configured individually to give more bandwidth to devices that require it, with a total of 40 "lanes", or 13 GB/s total throughput. When running Mac OS X, the Mac Pro currently does not support SLI or ATI CrossFire, limiting its ability to use the latest "high-end gaming" video card products; however, individuals have reported success with both CrossFire and SLI installations when running Windows XP, as SLI and CrossFire compatibility is largely a function of software.
The bandwidth allocation of the PCIe slots can be configured via the Expansion Slot Utility included with Mac OS X only on the August 2006 Mac Pro. The Mac Pro (Early 2008) has its slots hardwired as follows.
|Slot 1 (Double-Wide)||16x|
External connectivity 
For external connectivity, the Mac Pro includes five USB 2.0 and four FireWire 800 ports. Networking is supported with two built-in Gigabit Ethernet ports. 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi support (AirPort Extreme) required an optional module in the Mid 2006, Early 2008 and Early 2009 models, whereas in the newest model is standard. Bluetooth also required an optional module in the Mid 2006 model, but is standard in the Early 2008 and newer models. Displays are supported by one or (optionally) more PCIe graphics cards. Each card has two Mini DisplayPort connectors and one dual-link Digital Visual Interface (DVI) port, with various configurations of on-card graphics memory available.
Digital (TOSlink optical) audio and analog 1/8" stereo mini jacks for sound in and out are included, latter becoming available on both the front and back of the case.
Unlike other Mac computers, the Mac Pro does not include an infrared receiver (required to use the Apple Remote). Beginning with Mac OS X Leopard, Front Row can be accessed on the Mac Pro (and other Macs) using the Command (⌘)-Escape keystroke.
The exterior of the aluminum case is very similar to that of the Power Mac G5, with the exception of an additional optical drive bay, and a new arrangement of I/O ports on both the front and the back. The case can be opened by operating a single lever on the back, which unlocks one of the two sides of the machine, as well as the drive bays. All of the expansion slots for memory, PCIe cards and drives can be accessed with the one panel removed (through the late 2009 model you also needed to remove a clear plastic air foil), and require no tools for installation.
The Xeon processors generate much less heat than the previous dual-core G5s, so the size of the internal cooling devices has been reduced significantly. This allowed the interior to be re-arranged, leaving more room at the top of the case and thereby allowing the drives to double in number. Less heat also means less air to move out of the case for cooling during normal operations; the Mac Pro is very quiet in normal operation, quieter than the much noisier Power Mac G5, and proved difficult to measure using common sound pressure level meters.
|Component||Intel Xeon (based on Core microarchitecture)||Intel Xeon (based on Nehalem microarchitecture)||Intel Xeon (based on Nehalem microarchitecture and Westmere microarchitecture)|
|Model||Mid 2006||Early 2008||Early 2009||Mid 2010||Mid 2012|
|Release date||August 7, 2006
April 4, 2007 Optional 3.0 GHz Quad-core Xeon "Clovertown"
|January 8, 2008||March 3, 2009
December 4, 2009 Optional 3.33 GHz Quad-core Xeon "Bloomfield"
|August 9, 2010||June 11, 2012|
|Model Numbers||MA356*/A||MA970*/A||MB871*/A MB535*/A||MC560*/A MC250*/A MC561*/A||MD770*/A MD771*/A MD772*/A|
MacPro2,1 Optional 3.0 GHz Quad-core Xeon "Clovertown"
|Kernel Default Mode||32-bit||32-bit in Mac OS X (client), 64-bit in Mac OS X Server||64-bit|
|Chipset||Intel 5000X||Intel 5400||Intel X58|
|Processor||Two 2.66 GHz (5150) Dual-core Intel Xeon "Woodcrest"
Optional 2.0 GHz (5130), 2.66 GHz or 3.0 GHz (5160) Dual-core or 3.0 GHz (X5365) Quad-core Intel Xeon "Clovertown"
|Two 2.8 GHz (E5462) Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Harpertown"
Optional two 3.0 GHz (E5472) or 3.2 GHz (X5482) Quad-core processors or one 2.8 GHz (E5462) Quad-core processor
|One 2.66 GHz (W3520) Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Bloomfield" or two 2.26 GHz (E5520) Quad-core Intel Xeon "Gainstown" with 8 MB of L3 cache
Optional 2.93 GHz (W3540) or 3.33 GHz (W3580) Intel Xeon Quad-core Intel Xeon "Bloomfield" processors or two 2.66 GHz (X5550) or 2.93 GHz (X5570) Quad-core Intel Xeon "Gainstown" processors
|One 2.8 GHz Quad-Core "Bloomfield" Intel Xeon (W3530) processor with 8 MB of L3 cache or two 2.4 GHz Quad-Core "Gulftown" Intel Xeon (E5620) processors with 12 MB of L3 cache or two 2.66 GHz 6-core "Gulftown" Intel Xeon (X5650) processors with 12 MB of L3 cache
Optional 3.2 GHz Quad-Core "Bloomfield" (W3565) or 3.33 GHz 6-core "Gulftown" (W3680) Intel Xeon processors or two 2.93 GHz 6-core (X5670) Intel Xeon "Gulftown" processors
|One 3.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (W3565) processor with 8 MB of L3 cache or two 2.4 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon (E5645) processors with 12 MB of L3 cache
Optional 3.33 GHz 6-Core (W3680), two 2.66 GHz 6-core (X5650), or two 3.06 GHz 6-core (X5675) Intel Xeon processors
|System bus||1333 MHz||1600 MHz||4.8 GT/s(Quad-core models only) or 6.4 GT/s||4.8 GT/s (Quad-core models only), 5.86 GT/s(8-core models only) or 6.4 GT/s||4.8 GT/s (Quad-core models only), 5.86 GT/s(12-core models only) or 6.4 GT/s|
|Front-side bus||QuickPath Interconnect|
|Memory||1 GB (two 512 MB) of 667 MHz DDR2 ECC fully buffered DIMM
Expandable to 16 GB (Apple), 32 GB (Actual)
|2 GB (two 1 GB) of 800 MHz DDR2 ECC fully buffered DIMM
Expandable to 32 GB
|3 GB (three 1 GB) for UP quad-core or 6 GB (six 1 GB) for DP 8-core of 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC DIMM
Expandable to 16 GB on Quad-core models (although expandable to 32GB using 3rd party 4×8GB DIMMS), and 32 GB in 8-core models
|3 GB (three 1 GB) for quad- and 6-core models or 6 GB (six 1 GB) for 8- and 12-core models
Expandable to 32 GB on Quad-core models, and 64 GB in 8- and 12-core models (although expandable to 96GB using 3rd party 6×16GB DIMMS)
|6 GB (three 2 GB) for quad- and 6-core models or 12 GB (six 2 GB) for 12-core models
Expandable to 32 GB on Quad- and 6-core models, and 64 GB in 12-core models (although expandable to 96GB using 3rd party 6×16GB DIMMS)
Expandable to four graphics cards
|nVidia GeForce 7300 GT with 256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM (single-link and dual-link DVI ports)
Optional ATI Radeon X1900 XT with 512 MB GDDR3 SDRAM (two dual-link DVI ports) or nVidia Quadro FX 4500 with 512 MB GDDR3 SDRAM (stereo 3D and two dual-link DVI ports)
|ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT with 256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM (two dual-link DVI ports)
Optional nVidia GeForce 8800 GT with 512 MB GDDR3 SDRAM (two dual-link DVI ports) or nVidia Quadro FX 5600 1.5 GB (stereo 3D, two dual-link DVI ports)
|nVidia GeForce GT 120 with 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM (one mini-DisplayPort and one dual-link DVI port)
Optional ATI Radeon HD 4870 with 512 MB of GDDR5 SDRAM (one Mini DisplayPort and one dual-link DVI port)
|ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1 GB of GDDR5 memory (two Mini DisplayPorts and one dual-link DVI port)
Optional ATI Radeon HD 5870 with 1 GB of GDDR5 memory (two Mini DisplayPorts and one dual-link DVI port)
7200-rpm unless specified
|250 GB Serial ATA with 8 MB cache
Optional 500 GB with 8 MB cache or 750 GB with 16 MB cache
|320 GB Serial ATA with 8 MB cache
Optional 500 GB, 750 GB, or 1 TB Serial ATA with 16 MB cache or 300 GB Serial Attached SCSI, 15,000-rpm with 16 MB cache
|640 GB Serial ATA with 16 MB cache
Optional 1 TB or 2 TB Serial ATA drives with 32 MB cache
|1 TB Serial ATA with 32 MB cache
Optional 1 TB or 2 TB Serial ATA drives with 32 MB cache or 512 GB Solid State Drives
|Optical drive||16× SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)||18× SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)|
|AirPort Extreme||Optional 802.11a/b/g and draft-n (n disabled by default)||Optional 802.11a/b/g and draft-n (n-enabled)||Built-in 802.11a/b/g/n|
|Maximum Supported Operating System||OS X 10.7 "Lion"
(Unofficially, can run OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" with an upgrade to a supported graphics card and EFI64 emulation)
|OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion"|
Mac Pro Server 
On November 5, 2010, Apple introduced the Mac Pro Server, which officially replaces the Xserve line of Apple servers as of January 31, 2011. The Mac Pro Server comes with an unlimited Mac OS X Server license and an Intel 2.8 GHz Quad-Core processor, with 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
Operating systems 
- OS X 10.4.7 and later
- Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 32-bit & 64-bit (hardware drivers are included in Boot Camp)
- Other x86 operating systems such as Linux x86, Solaris, and BSD
This is made possible by the presence of an x86 Intel architecture as provided by the CPU and the BIOS emulation Apple has provided on top of EFI. Installing any additional operating system other than Windows is not supported by Apple, because the Boot Camp drivers are Windows only. It is often possible to achieve full or nearly full compatibility with another OS by using 3rd-party drivers.
There are a number of challenges that one must face when trying to establish a multi-booting configuration on a single hard drive that uses the new GPT partitioning standard that Mac OS takes advantage of at the same time as the MBR, which is commonly used by Windows and Linux (though Linux can use GPT). One must synchronize their GPT and MBR partition tables multiple times during the setup of such configurations. The key challenge is that a maximum of 4 partitions can be made on any such hard drive (including the EFI partition). This is because logical and extended MBR partitions are not possible which means that more than 4 partitions cannot be referenced for the MBR component of the configuration. Thus, having more partitions would force MBR and GPT to have differing partitioning schemes. The Disk Utility command-line application in Mac OS X (in addition to numerous 3rd-party graphical packages) can nondestructively resize a single partitioned HFS+ formatted volume to a scheme usable for dual/triple boot configurations with BIOS/MBR.
Add-on hardware compatibility 
- For 2006 and 2008 models, Apple recommends an Apple-specified heat sink on each memory DIMM for cooling, and the required on-chip thermal manager may shut down memory, or increase fan speed, if it starts to overheat. Several third-party, self-installable memory upgrades that include Apple-specified heat sinks are available. In contrast, the 2009 Mac Pro with Nehalem processors uses unbuffered memory with no heatsinks.
- The Mac Pro, as with other Mac platforms, requires Mac OS X firmware. That is to say, a PCIe video card designed exclusively for other operating systems will not work properly under Mac OS X without appropriate drivers and/or firmware; however, they will work under the operating systems they were designed for, if installed via Boot Camp or other means. Some video cards and other hardware accessories not marketed for Macs can nonetheless be tricked into compatibility through flashing drivers from either similar Mac hardware or with a custom firmware onto non-supported hardware. Also, AMD released the ATI Radeon HD 3870, which is compatible with both Mac Pros and PCs from other manufacturers. The Radeon HD 6XXX series of Graphics Processors (excluding 69XX), also released by AMD in 2010, will work without being flashed under Mac OS X if the user has installed drivers from Mac OS X Lion.
- As of the release of Mountain Lion, most PCIe video cards work natively without flashing drivers. One would not be able to see the boot screen/apple logo at boot up with an unflashed video card, but operation in the OS is quite capable.
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