Intel Debuts New Xeon-W Chips Possibly Destined for iMac Pro

Intel today introduced its new Xeon-W workstation-class processors at the IFA trade show in Berlin, and the new chips line up nicely with the processor capabilities we’re expecting to see in the iMac Pro.

The new chips, which use an LGA2066 socket and Skylake-SP architecture, come in 8, 10, and 18 core configurations with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz, 48 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, and support for up to 512GB of DDR4–2666 ECC memory.

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Apple has said the iMac Pro will feature Intel’s Xeon processors, with 8, 10, and 18 core chips available as optional configurations with up to 42MB cache and maximum Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz.

Specifically, Apple could be planning to use the 8-core 3.7GHz Xeon W–2145, the 10-core 3.3GHz Xeon W–2155, and the 18-core 2.3GHz Xeon W–2195. Pricing on the chips starts at $1,113, but a price is not yet listed for the high-end 18-core processors.


According to Intel, the Xeon-W chips offer a 1.87x boost in performance compared to a 4-year old workstation with an Intel Xeon E5–1680 v2 Romley processor, like the 2013 8-core Mac Pro, and up to 1.38x higher performance compared to previous-generation Xeon E5–1680 v4 chips.


Intel plans to release its high-end 18-core chips in the fourth quarter of 2017, which also lines up with the target release date of the iMac Pro. The other chips may see earlier release dates.

Though Xeon-W chips do appear to work for the iMac Pro, there is still some question as to whether they’re the chips Apple plans to use. A June report from Pike’s Universum suggested Apple would use Intel’s server-grade Purley processors with an LGA3647 socket rather than the desktop-class LGA2066 socket.

That information was based on firmware files found in the macOS High Sierra beta, but it’s possible it was inaccurate. Intel announced some Purley chips in July, but that announcement did not include chips that would be appropriate for the iMac Pro.

Along with Xeon processors, the iMac Pro will include Radeon Pro Vega graphics, up to 4TB of solid state storage space, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, up to 128GB of ECC RAM, and a redesigned thermal architecture to support those components.

Rumors based on firmware findings suggest the iMac Pro could also include a Secure Enclave with an ARM coprocessor like the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, but it’s unclear at this time what that functionality will be used for as Apple has made no mention of Touch ID support.

The iMac Pro is positioned as a workstation class machine aimed at pro users with demanding workflows, and it’s priced accordingly. When it launches in December, pricing for the iMac Pro will start at $4,999.

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Intel Unveils ‘Purley’ Xeon Chip Lineup, but None are Appropriate for High-End iMac Pro

Intel today unveiled its full lineup of "Purley" Xeon processors, most of which have already launched or are launching soon, but none of the chips in the lineup appear to be appropriate for Apple's upcoming iMac Pro at the high end.

When the iMac Pro was announced, Apple said it would use Intel's Xeon processors, with 8, 10, and 18 core chips available as optional configurations with up to 42MB cache and maximum Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz.


Despite rumors suggesting Apple will use Purley processors in the machines, the currently available chips do not match those specifications. The chips max out at 4.2GHz Turbo Boost, so at least some of the processors Apple plans to use are not yet available from Intel.

With none of the chips lining up with Apple's promised high-end specifications, the most likely explanation is that Intel has additional Purley chips on the horizon that have yet to be announced. Next-generation Xeon chips, codenamed Cascade Lake, won't be available until 2018, and thus won't be ready in time for Apple's promised December release date.

In late June, Pike's Universum dug up firmware files from the macOS High Sierra beta suggesting the iMac Pro will use Intel's server-class LGA3647 socket rather than the desktop-class LGA2066 socket, pointing towards the use of server-grade "Purley" Skylake-SP processors.

Those same firmware files suggest the new iMac Pro will feature a Secure Enclave with an ARM coprocessor like the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, but it's unclear what that functionality will be used for. Touch ID is, however, a possibility.

Apple's iMac Pro is expected to be available for purchase this December, with pricing starting at $4,999 in the United States. Along with server-grade processors, the machines are expected to feature Radeon Pro Vega graphics, up to 128GB of ECC RAM, and up to 4TB of SSD storage.

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iMac Pro May Feature Intel’s Server-Grade ‘Purley’ Processors, ARM Coprocessor

Apple earlier this month unveiled the iMac Pro, a workstation-class desktop computer with up to an 18-core Intel Xeon processor, top-of-the-line Radeon Pro Vega graphics, up to 4TB of SSD storage, and up to 128GB of ECC RAM.


Apple didn't specify exactly which processors will be included in the iMac Pro, but if the blog Pike's Universum is to be believed, it could be powered by Intel's next-generation server-grade Skylake-EX and Skylake-EP processors, which are based on a platform codenamed "Purley."

The blog, which appears to be sourcing its information from firmware files in the macOS High Sierra developer beta, said the iMac Pro will use Intel's new server-class LGA3647 socket, not its high-end, desktop-class LGA2066 socket.

If the information is accurate, it suggests the iMac Pro could have truly server-grade Xeon processors, rather than using Intel's recently announced Core-X series of Skylake and Kaby Lake chips that still use the LGA2066 socket.

The blog added that the new iMac Pro appears to be coming with a Secure Enclave, suggesting it will have an ARM coprocessor like the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar for added security. It would also open the door to Touch ID on the iMac Pro, but Apple made no mention of the feature when introducing the computer.


Pike's Universum revealed some of the iMac Pro's tech specs in April, two months prior to it being announced, including that it would have Xeon processors, ECC RAM, faster SSD storage, AMD graphics options, and Thunderbolt 3 ports, but some of the specific details proved to be inaccurate.

Apple said the iMac Pro will be available to order in December, starting at $4,999 in the United States.

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Tag: Intel

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