Rumor Has It: Next-Gen Mac Pro Getting Six-Core “Core i9” Processor

gulftownApple’s (s aapl) powerhouse configurable tower desktop aimed mostly at semi-pro and pro users could be getting some update love in the near future, according to the latest rumblings coming out of the rumor mill today. is reporting that one of its sources has solid information on the new Mac Pro, which should appear sometime in early 2009 2010.

The new Mac Pro will feature a brand new Xeon CPU from Intel (s intc), if the rumors are accurate, which it will offer exclusively for a short time until the second quarter of 2009. The CPU, code-named Gulftown, boasts a huge six processing cores, which beats the current single core total by two. With two processors, like the more expensively configured Mac Pro has, that would result in a total of 12 cores of processing power.

The Gulftown processor also sports 12MB of shared cache, instead of the 8MB on current models, uses 32-nm engraving instead of 45, and will feature slightly lower power consumption than the current generation Xeon. Also, even though it’s a true successor to the Xeon line currently found in Mac Pros, rumor has it that it will be ditching that moniker in favor of the “Core i9” namesake. speculates that the new six-core Core i9 processor might not immediately be put to work across the Mac Pro line, instead suggesting that Apple may want to extend its line in that category by continuing to offer the quad core version in an entry-level Pro. It’s a nice thought, but without any real basis, so I’d file this one under wishful thinking for the time being. Hardmac believes a lower-priced, entry-level Pro might attract some mini customers, but I doubt that’s something Apple really wants to do.

They do have other info directly from the source, who remains anonymous, as per usual. The motherboard will sport some major changes that should allow it to increase performance exponentially. There will be an Ethernet 10Gbits/s port, and a bump up in the RAM module capacity for 8 and 16GB units, which would mean that the future Mac Pro could theoretically support up to 128GB of RAM at once.

Being way more hardware-savvy than myself, Hardmac sums up with the tantalizing prediction that the combination of Snow Leopard, the Core i9 processor, and top-of-the-line graphics cards from either NVIDIA or ATI could provide more than enough power for real-time rendering in Final Cut Studio 3.0. Speaking for my friends who work in television editing, who’ve spent many a late night waiting for a render to finish, this is very good news indeed.