can I replace nehalem with westmere processors?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by pianoman88, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. pianoman88 macrumors regular

    Aug 20, 2010
    I'm planning on buying a MacPro soon.
    I'm considering buying a refurbished 8 core with the idea of upgrading the processors on a year or two when they are cheaper.

    Is this possible (replacing Nehalems with Westmeres)?
  2. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    No, not yet.
    The firmware of the Nehalem Mac Pro's doesn't support Westmere processors.
    Maybe someone will release a firmware update later, but that's still very vague since the 2010 models haven't been delivered to the masses.
  3. pianoman88 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 20, 2010
    OK. Is it safe to assume that an 8-core Westmere can be upgraded to a 12-core later?
  4. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
  5. Altimeter88 macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2006
    Also those getting the new 2010 single 2.8 quad Nehlams should have no problem later dropping in a 3.3ghz 6-core correct?
  6. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Maybe yes, maybe no.

    It's possible that they have different firmware for the Quads and Hex core systems. It would mean separate SP daughterboards if they did this, but allow additional control.

    Hopefully however, this won't be the case, and the SP firmware is capable of running either D0 or B1 stepped LGA1366 parts. But we need to wait for confirmation (been looking, but haven't seen anything either way).
  8. Altimeter88 macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2006
    That is exactly what I was thinking, need to wait and see to be sure.
    I got tired of waiting and just purchased an Gigabyte X58A-UD5 rev.1 board, 12gb RAM, i7 930 quad core etc. which will go into a Silverstone Fortress FT02 case.

    I will throw in the 6-core 980x as soon as I can verify a smooth hackintosh install. I plan on getting the Apple branded ATI 5870 to put in there as soon as it is released, in the meantime I will pull the 4890 from my 2006 Mac Pro.

    I am hoping this doesn't become a headache trying to get OSX running on the above hardware, if it is, I will return/sell everything and get a legit Mac Pro, if this works though, $1200 for a better equipped/performing rig will be nice...that is assuming everything runs natively and smooth without problems.
  9. studiox macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2004
    Stockholm / Sweden
    Keep in mind that its not only about firmware / EFI. The chipset needs to support the new processors AND speeds to.
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    You don't need to use an Apple branded video card, as you're board isn't running EFI firmware (any PC card will work so long as you have drivers for OS X, as the system is running on BIOS). So any 5870 using the ATI reference design will work. Past that (i.e. OC'ed, additional memory,...), may not work under OS X as expected.

    I think that board works fine IIRC. Spend some time on sites like, and see what comes up, assuming you've not been looking there already. ;)

    Actually, they use the same chipsets as the Nehalem systems. :)

    Intel designs the Tick Tock cycle that way (chipset and socket runs for 2 years), and the ICH10 has been in production since 2007 (Q3 2007 = ICH10, Q4 2007 = ICH10R), which is what actually contains the SATA (6x ports), USB (12x, though Apple only uses 5x), and Ethernet controllers. FW is a separate chip.

    So all that's meant to be needed for the boards built on the correct socket, is firmware. There have been a few exceptions (needed to make some adjustments to the Voltage Regulators, such as the resistors when they won't go low enough with programming alone). But this is usually the result of parts selection and/or deviation from Intel's reference design.

    Changes such as adding SATA 6.0Gb/s or USB 3.0 for example, will get a different P/N (sold as a different model). And if a semiconductor changes that won't make it a different part number (i.e. got an existing part from a different supplier), that gets addressed in the firmware as well (i.e. 3rd party SATA/SAS controller, ... that can't function on the existing firmware's code).

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