Apple Intros Xeon-Based Mac Pro Workstations at WWDC 2006

Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phillip Schiller today introduced the Mac Pro, an upgrade to Apple's highest end personal computers, each now using two Intel Xeon processors with speeds of up to 3GHz. Using the same case as its G5 predecessor, the Mac Pro will contain two optical drives and will run Intel Woodcrest processors that are based on Core technology. Also on board will be a 4MB shared L2 cache running Apple's 128-bit vector engine. Because of the increased efficiency and less heat output of these processors, less cooling is necessary, resulting in space for more drives. In fact, now there's room for four hard drives, with enough room for up to 2TB of internal storage.

Schiller announced that the basic configuration would be priced at $2499 for a dual-2.6GHz Xeon dual core Mac Pro with 1GB RAM, Geforce 7300 GT (256 MB VRAM) graphics and a SuperDrive. He quickly took a dig at Dell, saying that a comparable machine from that company would cost $1000 more. Fully tricked out, the machine can include dual 3GHz processors with 16GB of RAM, 2TB of storage and graphics choices of a Radeon X1900 or FX4500 graphics card, along with Bluetooth and AirPort connectivity. Schiller also announced these products will be available today.

More after the jump.

Kicking off the conference was Steve Jobs, who first sung the praises of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), lauding the number of engineers attending—1000 of them on site—and emphasizing that there was one engineer for every four attendees. Then he mentioned the growth rate of the Mac, saying that the last quarter was the best Mac quarter ever. The Mac continued to gain market share, with 1.3 million shipped last quarter. Jobs also added that market share dramatically rose in June for the MacBook, with the MacBook Pro leading the lineup. Of all the Macs shipped, three quarters of them were Intel-based.

Schiller added that the Xserve product will also have Xeons built in, with performance similar to that of the new Mac Pro machines. He added it will have a smaller chip footprint, and asserted that the newer Xserve unit will be five times faster than its predecessor.

Next Steve Jobs took the stage once again, and explained the new features of Leopard, the latest update of OS X. Taking various jabs at rival company Microsoft, Jobs compared this latest version of OS X to the upcoming Microsoft operating system, Vista. "Redmond, start your photocopiers," he quipped to the adoring audience.

Jobs said a major improvement of Leopard is its 64-bit user interface that has been modified in a way that's still compatible with 32-bit applications. According to Jobs, it's now possible to run 32-bit apps side by side with 64-bit without needing emulation or translation. He called it "full 64-bit support, from top to bottom." He also touted the Time Machine, a backup routine that automatically makes a copy of everything on the Mac, taking snapshots in configurable points of time that are easily recalled. It can restore everything or just one file at a time.

Jobs then mentioned that Boot Camp, the software that allows Windows XP to also be run on the Mac, will now ship as a standard part of the Leopard operating system. He added that there have been a half million downloads of Boot Camp to date.

Other operating system features announce were Virtual Desktops, or multiple desktops can be created, and then the feature allows users to zoom out to see all the desktops and drag items between one and the other, or quickly switch between them. Improvements in Apple's instant search feature Spotlight were also announced, where now users can also search other machines if proper permissions are given.

Rounding out the package were additional to-do list and notes features, along with the addition of Core Animation which will allow developers to create applications which easily display multiple layers of text, images, video and animations.