Upgrading the Processor in the Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ktbubster, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. ktbubster macrumors 6502a

    ktbubster

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    #1
    My mom currently has a G4 tower which my dad has been upgrading and adding to for the last 5 years. He's been able to get processor upgrades for it as it goes, it is now currently running at 1.8 ghz.

    We are planning on FINALLY upgrading my mom to a Mac Pro in the next month or so (after MWSF) so we can upgrade and such for the next many years. Anyway, I was wondering if it will be able to be upgraded similar to how the G4 was. There isn't really any place offering processor upgrades right now, which ofcourse makes sense, because it's only been about 2 years and there hasn't been any need for things like that.

    I've seen a few sites where they upgrade the processor from a 2.0 to a 3.0 and such, but I was just wondering if anyone knew anything about possible upgrade options there would be in the future that would be akin to those used in PPC processors.

    For instance, in 3 or 4 years would it be conceivable to have a 2.66 ghz mac pro and get a processor upgrade or replace the processor to whatever the newer would be at the time. Perhaps a 4.0 ghz upgrade or whatnot (i know this is just completely hypothetical so ignore the numbers)
     
  2. killmoms macrumors 68040

    killmoms

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    #2
    Probably not. As soon as Intel debuts a new socket or a line of chips that has drastically different FSB or power requirements (AKA a line of chips not supported by the ancillary chipset on the Mac Pro's motherboard), you're done for upgrading. So you could upgrade to a certain point, but no further.
     
  3. Willis macrumors 68020

    Willis

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    #3
    Yes, as the chips are pin seated. The new ones would have to be socket compatable, which limits how long you can upgrade I guess...

    But end of the day, its possible
     
  4. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #4
    Unfortunately the Mac Pro is essentially a standard x86 workstation. Every 12-18 months (at most) the CPU socket or chipset will become outdated and new, faster CPUs won't work. Unlike the G4 it is not normally possible to use adaptors etc to make the newer CPUs work on old motherboards. In 2-3 years the CPUs that work will not have been sold for 1-2 years and so will be scarce...
     
  5. cal6n macrumors 68000

    cal6n

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    #5
    These are Intel's pro server line and they had, as far as I recall, committed themselves to producing at least the next 2 families of processors for the 771 socket. This should see us with a few upgrade options for the future.
     
  6. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #6
    Same sockets but my understanding was that the FSB was going to ramp up. Now the higher FSB CPUs will probably boot on slower boards (at a lower than advertised clock speed), but probably only with a firmware update. No problem with a retail motherboard, but I can't see Apple releasing one...
     
  7. Masher500 macrumors member

    Masher500

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    #7
    Didnt someone take a mac pro dual core and put a quad core processor in it?
     
  8. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #8
    anandtech did it. It was quite a hassle (iirc they had to drill out some rivets to get there). Those were pin and FSB compatible chips.
     
  9. cal6n macrumors 68000

    cal6n

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    #9
    They did not have to drill out any rivets. Their problem was that they used a wrong sized screwdriver, chewed the screwheads on the memory cage and then had to bodge them out. The replacement job is actually no more hassle than on any other machine, provided the instructions in the manual are followed and correct tools are on hand.

    Regarding the possibility that a firmware update may be required; well, we'll just have to wait and see. I mean, what's the point of maintaining pin-socket compatibility if they're not, er, compatible? IIRC, the core2duo processors dropped straight in the coreduo iMacs and minis with no modifications.

    However, at the very least, the current top of the range 3.0 GHz quad-core units ought to be available on the second-hand market by then and should provide an economically viable upgrade path for those who merely wish to prolong the life of their machine, rather than surf the bleeding edge.
     
  10. Macinposh macrumors 6502a

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    #10


    Indeed.

    The current/present generation processors (up to the x5365) is compatible. No firmare tinkering needed.
    The present/future penryns havent been tested yet in Macpros,for what I know, so it is unclear if they are firmware compatible.
    They are however socket compatible and propably will be for the next 2 generations,at least that whats intel stated at some point?

    So: woodcrest+/clovertown+/penryn?


    The biggest problem is that the processor prices dont seem to drop that radically anymore...:confused:
    I mean,the current series seem to stay more expensive that the replacing penryns seem to be...
    And in the future,trying to find some old workstation class processors from some small vendor,well,it is quite futile.
     
  11. jabbawok macrumors regular

    jabbawok

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    #11
    I picked up a couple of used Xeons for my server off ebay not long ago for £20 each. I rekon you will get a couple of peryins for not much in a couple of years and somone will heve tested them in a V1 Mac Pro by then, so you will know to what extent they work.
     
  12. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #12
    It's possible that Intel will release 3.4, 3.6, 3.8 and 4.0GHz Quad Core Harpertown processors (those we assume the new Mac Pro will use). Intel have hinted at such speeds. However they are likely to all be released next year and then production on processors compatible with the current and new Mac Pros will surely be stopped as Intel move to a new platform and processors (Nehalem) which are not compatible. Because of this short life for Penryn, you may find difficulty getting processors 3-4 years from now at bargain prices. Infact your best bet could esily be to sell whatever you buy when Nehalem Mac Pros come out and then upgrade that when the time comes.

    You may find you don't need to upgrade at all though. It's really in the software makers hand as to whether they can provide things that will really take advantage of the hardware we will have 3-4 years from now.
     
  13. Waragainstsleep macrumors regular

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    #13
    Its also possible that someone will work out a way of adapting one socket type to another. Can't imagine Intel will make it easy for them, but you never know....
     
  14. RichP macrumors 68000

    RichP

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    #14
    Its unlikely.. usually in the PC world it is just cheaper to get a new motherboard that is compatible.

    I have a feeling a new 8-core machine is going to be relatively state of the art for some time. It is going to take software writers a long time to catch up in terms of making applications that can effectively use so many processors.

    There is always more RAM and faster Hard Drives to upgrade to!
     
  15. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #15
    A bit hard when the next processor has the memory controller on-die and not on the motherboard.

    No amount of retrofitting is going to make that work.
     
  16. legends74 macrumors newbie

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    #16
    The big question I'd like answered, short of buying the chips myself and testing, is whether or not 45nm Penryn CPUs that use the same socket, FSB, and thermal/power requirements of their 65nm predecessors will work in a Mac Pro 2006 version (or whatever you want to call the first released Mac Pro).

    If anybody comes across a brave or just more financially endowed soul that has tried such a thing, please post here or message me with a link.

    Signed,

    Dreaming of Quad core 3GHz Harpertons and a fully functional 8800GT vcard in his 1.5yr-old Mac Pro. :D

    P.S. - Here are some links to Penryn cpus that are similar enough to possibly work:
    Quad 2.66 using 1333 bus
    Quad 2.83 using 1333 bus
    Quad 3GHz, 1333 bus

    and my favourite for Gaming
    Dual 3.33GHz using 1333 bus -- Two of those bad boys paired up with SLI'd 8800GT in Windows would run circles around my current 2.66 Woodcrests and x1900xt vcard!
     
  17. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #17
    Unfortunately SLI is not an option as long as NVIDIA is not allowing SLI on non-NVIDIA based motherboards.

    But running at high resolution and with Full Screen Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering is going to make you graphic card limiting factor and not the processors. Hence, it doesn't matter whether or not the processors are running at 2.66Ghz or 3.33Ghz. Something else will, most likely, always become the bottleneck.
     
  18. legends74 macrumors newbie

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    #18
    I thought someone released a driver mod that allowed SLI on Intel motherboards.

    Agreed, GPU first CPU second, for gaming at least. But, you imply that there is no advantage to a better CPU when their definately is some. Here's an example and that's just going from 2.66 to 3.2 on an 8800GTX (130% increase in FPS).

    Getting at least one 8800GT and a newer Penryn is enough of a bottleneck reliever for me. Not overly expensive either, seeing as the 8800GT is about $250 ($125 after selling the x1900xt) and the difference in price between my current Woodcrest Xeon and that beautiful 3.33GHz is about $250.
     
  19. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #19
    They only worked on the Geforce 6 and 7 series.

    That is because it is processor limited in that example. As soon as you turn on Full Screen Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering you will see the scores normalize to be within a few frames most of the time.
    $851 is quite a bit a money for a single Xeon X5260 which, as far as I have searched, isn't even available yet. So let me get this straight, you think spending $2051 for this upgrade is a good deal?

    Especially when it has not been confirmed whether or not Penryn works in the old Mac Pro yet.
     
  20. chewietobbacca macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Penryn isn't guaranteed to be backwars compatible as older mobo's have problems with them.

    Also, Nehalem is coming at the end of this year for servers, and the Nehalems will be LGA1567, LGA1366, LGA1160 so no amount of retrofitting or modding will EVER make them work with the current LGA775/771's. Period. Computers just don't work that way.
     
  21. WardC macrumors 68030

    WardC

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    #21
    Upgrading Xeon chips in Mac Pro systems

    There are several good sites and resources on the net which detail the process of upgrading the processor in a Mac Pro tower.

    What we do know:

    A Woodcrest or Clovertown dual-processor Xeon Mac Pro can be upgraded by any set of matching 65nm (Wood or Clover) LGA 771 socket 5000 series Intel Xeon chips.

    That is known.

    You can take a 2.0GHz Quad Mac Pro and throw in a pair of X5365 (3.0GHz quad core chips) to give you a 3.0GHz 8-core Mac. This test has been done, achieved, and proven that it works. Same can be done for a 2.66GHz Mac Pro, or a 3.0GHz quad.

    Also, it's been proven that you can take any dual-processor (8-core) Harpertown (Jan 2008 revision) Mac Pro with 45nm chips and upgrade to any matched set of higher Harpertown chip (such as taking a 2.8GHz 8-core and upgrading it to a 3.2Ghz 8-core). This exact test has been proven and done, and it works.

    The Clovertown 3.0GHz chips (X5365), as well as the X5482 3.2GHz Harpertowns use ALOT more power than their lower clocked chips that will be ditched for the upgrade. More heat will be generated, but the huge heatsinks SHOULD do their job. Any extra cooling equipment you can install once you make the upgrade will ensure that you do not overheat your machine and burn up your chips, because that would be a huge loss.

    What is still up in the air -- the ability to upgrade a single processor (2.8GHz quad Xeon) Mac Pro machine to be a 2-chip 8-core Mac Pro. I haven't seen anywhere, where anybody has definitively given a "yes" or "no" on this issue. I think the best bet right now if you want a screamer for a good deal is either:

    1. Buy a refurb Mac Pro machine from Apple Store online, find a couple Clovertown X5365 chips on eBay (should be abut $300 - $350 a chip) and follow the install instructions. Then buy 16GB of RAM from OWC (macsales.com), this should run you about $750. For extra speed, order a Raptor SATA 10,000rpm drive and a couple of 750GB drives and configure a RAID array.

    2. Option #2 - Buy your Mac Pro 2.0GHz (steal of a deal) on eBay bare bones, follow instructions above.

    Either way, you can have a totally decked out 8-core Mac Pro that ranks up top in the benchmarks and SCREAMS in any pro app you may throw at it.

    Intel Xeon 5000 Processor Line Series:

    http://www.intel.com/products/processor/xeon5000/specifications.htm?iid=products_xeon5000+tab_specs

    Resources detailing upgrading Mac Pro processors:

    http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=2832&p=3

    http://www.o0o.it/pro/

    http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=11938

    -------------------------

    I've been doing my homework over the past few days, as I myself am intent on buying a new Mac Pro system, but the $4299 mark seems a bit steep for a barebones system. I have researched upgrading the processor and I am confident in my findings that I have posted above. Like I was saying, Woodcrest and Clovertown machines (2006-2007 65nm Xeon) should all be upgradable to faster Clovertowns, up to 3.0GHz, but may (and probably are) incompatible with the new 45nm die size chip design in the firmware compatibility (I did hear this from multiple sources). I haven't heard from anyone who has upgraded a Woodcrest or Clovertown machine with a pair of Harpertown processors, but, it still MAY be possible...don't count it out yet. The hexus link above details a Harpertown upgrade on a Jan2008 machine, showing a successful chip upgrade to the X5482 pair, BUT again...these processors start at about $1300 EACH retail. $2600 for a pair of these fast-as-beast monsters. It just doesn't seem like the economical deal yet, heck..for this option, it would just be alot cheaper to buy your Mac Pro already equipped with the X5482's. Even if you got a Harpertown machine for $2000, which is super-unlikely...and got a super deal on the chips...you would still not be able to get the price down to $4099 (3.2GHz Mac Pro Edu-discount cost).

    Hope this helps, give me some feedback.
    Cheers!

    -Ward
     
  22. legends74 macrumors newbie

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    #22
  23. cal6n macrumors 68000

    cal6n

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    #23
    I'm going to pull this thread back up to the present day as I'm expecting a pair of X5355 2.66 GHz quad cores (well, 2 pairs to be exact; one pair will be tested and then sold onwards) to be delivered tomorrow. They'll find a new home in my early Mac Pro 2.66 GHz with 12 GB RAM, keeping my clock speed constant and allowing me to assess the benefit of simply increasing the number of cores.

    I'm intending to run a series of benchmarks from a new user account before and after the upgrade. Geekbench, cinebench and xbench are obvious candidates, as well as a Handbrake session using a standard preset. Any other suggestions for benchmarks will be carefully considered, but I am not interested in any game related benchmarks. They're mostly for assessing the worth of upgraded graphics cards anyway.
     
  24. WardC macrumors 68030

    WardC

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    #24
    Again, it's unproven if it even works...you'd be better off snatching this pair of puppies off eBay to give you a 3.0GHz 8-core mac, and it's practically the same price as your 2.0GHz harpertowns:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/New-Intel-Xeon-...yZ158888QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    (these are the x5365 quadcore Clovertown chips)
     
  25. dusanv macrumors 6502

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    Mar 1, 2006
    #25
    The only report so far is that Penryn doesn't work on old Mac Pros (it's from that linked site above: http://www.o0o.it/pro/, look for a post by Listed1st). It seems we would need an EFI update for Penryns to work. I'm not holding my breath. But with that restocking fee is so low, I'd love to see another confirmation (I can't buy from newegg).
     

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