Intel Xeon W processor could end up in the new iMac Pro

We take a short breather before the IFA 2017 storm starts with Intel's almost unexpected announcement of new Xeon processors. Targeting "expert" workstations, the new Xeon Scalable promises to deliver performance to meet the number-crunching requirements of the entertainment industry, particularly in, you guessed it, virtual reality. But Intel also announced a Xeon W processor for "mainstream" workstations, which is now the crowd favorite speculation to power the late 2017 iMac Pro.

AMD nearly caught Intel by surprise when it made a huge grab for the markets where Intel has had a stronghold for years, from desktops to server to workstations. Naturally, Intel bit back with its 18-core Core i9 that, ironically, surpassed its own older Xeon line. Now its back to the Xeon with even more cores than most consumers might care for.

56 cores. That's how many cores the new Xeon Scalable can have at maximum. Throw in 112 threads and 4.2 GHz of Boost performance and you've got the makings of an "expert" workstation fit for both creating immersive 3D content but also rendering them for consumption.

Not everyone, however, will need, or can even afford, all those cores, even those that use workstations. For these "mainstream" workstation users, Intel is putting out the Xeon W processors. These cut down the numbers to 18 cores and 36 threads max while still running at 4.5 GHz in Boost mode.

While aimed at traditional workstations that do need power but not that much, the Web is abuzz at how the Intel Xeon W might power Apple's "traditional" workstation, the next iMac Pro. The early 2017 model already boasted of 8 cores, which was the current to of the line Core processors offered at best. But with the Core i9 and, now, the Xeon W, Intel's promise of an 18-core iMac Pro might be just around the corner.