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.

imac pro white background
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.

Top Rated Comments

asiga Avatar
59 months ago
I find so hard to understand why an iMac Pro -where almost every part is custom- can be designed in a few months, while the promised "modular Mac Pro" needs more than a year.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GQB Avatar
59 months ago
If they don't meet their deadline, will the resulting scandals be called "Purley-gates"?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
justperry Avatar
59 months ago
I find so hard to understand why an iMac Pro -where almost every part is custom- can be designed in a few months, while the promised "modular Mac Pro" needs more than a year.
Who says Apple designed this iMacPro in a few months, where's your proof.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aaronhead14 Avatar
59 months ago
I still don't get why Apple took the time to design this when they could have used those resources towards designing and releasing the modular Mac Pro sooner. I personally don't know a single pro user in my field who wants this iMac Pro. It simply doesn't have the customizability and expandability that we need.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdaven Avatar
59 months ago
The 42 MB refers to L2+L3 cache. The Gold Xeon 6154 has 18 cores which is 18 MB L2 and 24.75 MB L3. This adds up to 42.75 MB. I'm sure Apple marketing doesn't need to be so accurate. The 4.5 GHz turbo refers to Intel's new turbo feature that will raise a single core without defects to 4.5 GHz. So far this is only advertised on X299 platform chips but since the feature doesn't require new silicon, I'm sure Intel could enable the new turbo mode on Xeon chips for select customers like Apple. The iMac will only be using a single socket and all new Purley platform Xeons support 2 or more. A special single socket version for the iMac might allow the new turbo mode.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bice Avatar
59 months ago
So was the iMac Pro a distraction from the lack of a new MP as some have speculated? :apple:
imac pro was probably very late in the development stages when apple realised that the pro wants a modular pro machine, which apple hadn't done any development for. They didn't want to waste the investment in the imac pro, so they are going forward with it, but at the same time they have told the pros that a real modular pro machine is coming.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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