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Apple beats Intel to Nehalem-EP chip launch

The Xeon 3500 and 5500, Nehalem-EP processors slated for launch later this month, debut in the new Mac Pro. The chips are being offered in eight-core or four-core configurations.

Ponder this: Is an Intel product launch still a launch, if the product debuts very publicly in an Apple computer?

I won't presume to answer that question. But the fact is that Intel will launch Nehalem-EP server processors later this month, despite their manifestation Tuesday in the new Mac Pro under their official model names: the Xeon 3500 and 5500.

The chips--in their desktop variant known as the Core i7--are being offered in eight-core or four-core configurations and, like all Nehalam-architecture processors, come with an integrated memory controller for (theoretically) better performance. (Intel's Core architecture does not integrate the memory controller.)

Other Nehalem-architecture features include: Hyper-Threading for, according to Apple, "up to 16 virtual cores" (which improves multitasking), and Turbo Boost Technology, which dynamically increases the processor's frequency, as needed.

The Mac Pro also offers high-end Nvidia and ATI graphics. Systems can be configured with either Nvidia GeForce GT 120 or ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics chips.