Apple hasn't upgraded its top of the line Mac Pro desktop system since March of last year, when the Intel quad-core Xeon 3500 equipped model was introduced. Apple had the first desktop to use the new processor, and intel and Apple are believed to have an arrangement allowing Apple first use of their new Core i7-980X and 970X Extreme Edition when it is released. According the the French site HardMac, that release is imminent, with Mac Pro systems featuring the new six-core chip to begin rolling off the assembly line within weeks.
HardMac has been following the new chip's development closely and its sources have been saying consistently that the hexacore processor, based on the 32-nm Gulftown platform, would be coming to Apple's high-end desktop. While it was originally thought that the chip would carry the "Core i9" nameplate, the Chinese site PCOnline revealed it as the "Core i7 Extreme Edition" back in December.
The name of this hexacore CPU is now know[n], Core i7-980X, another cheaper (and slower) model should also be available, Core i7-970. According to [different] sources, this new CPU should become available in March. So, if Apple and Intel are still engaged in a tight partnership, Apple might have the exclusivity of such CPU (as for the Nehalem Xeon) for a couple of days or weeks.
HardMac also asserts that the new Mac Pros will ship with Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards. Macs had been using NVIDIA graphics processors in its iMacs and Mac Pros, but Apple and NVIDIA reportedly came into conflict over hardware defects in NVIDIA's boards. For its part, Intel filed suit against the graphics hardware manufacturer last year to keep it from developing chipsets for its Core processors with integrated memory functionality.