Shortly before Christmas, shipping estimates for the 12-core Mac Pro increased to 1-3 weeks. That model does tend to occasionally see extra lead time, but the shipping delays have notably been applied to almost any custom Mac Pro order.
Eric Slivka of MacRumors writes:
Increases in shipping estimates in Apple’s online store can sometimes be indicative of an upcoming product refresh as the company draws down supplies ahead of launching the updated models. The Mac Pro is most certainly due for an update, and there are several indications that components may be coming together for a significant upgrade to the line.
Most importantly, Intel’s Sandy Bridge E Xeon processors are due for launch during the first quarter of this year after having been delayed from a late 2011 debut. Rumors have suggested, however, that continued issues with the chipset portion of the “Romley” platform utilizing the Sandy Bridge E Xeon processors may see a release being held back until the beginning of March, still several months from now.
Evidence of support for AMD’s “Tahiti” line of graphics cards has been showing up in developer builds of OS X 10.7.3. A week ago, AMD unveiled their first Tahiti card. It is due for a January launch.
The pieces do seem to be falling together for a substantial Mac Pro upgrade, but another possibility looms. Will the Mac Pro lineup even survive? A late October report claimed Apple is questioning the wisdom of continuing the Mac Pro offerings, as trends show a shifting of sales toward portable computers.
So, is Apple tightening supplies ahead of a refresh of the Mac Pro, or preparing to discontinue it? Time will tell.