A lot of fuss has been made today of last month’s discovery that Mac OS X 10.7.3 Beta 1 contains references to an upcoming video card from AMD dubbed Tahiti, likely to be marketed under the 79×0 moniker. The 28-nanometer graphics card is scheduled for release in January 2012 and will come in XT and PRO flavors, the former being billed as the fastest single chip card from AMD.

MacGadget.de thinks this points to an upcoming Mac Pro hardware refresh as Apple’s dream machine is their only computer family that uses desktop graphics rather than stripped-down mobile chips found in the iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro lineups.  That could certainly be the case.

While MacGadget.de’s speculation may pan out at some point, it’s worth pointing out that code hooks for the Tahiti card could mean Apple is continuing to support “off the shelf” PC video cards, which would certainly be good news for those intending to build a Hackintosh.

For starters, we’ve certainly seen unsupported video cards for Macs before. Specifically, 9to5Mac reported back in March that the Mac OS X 10.6.7 software update enabled native graphics acceleration for a bunch of AMD/ATI Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx cards, not all of which are included in Apple’s Macs…

Also, Apple has released new stand-alone video card updates without new Mac hardware in the past so this could just be a new video card for old Pros.

That being said, we are expecting a Mac Pro refresh with a possible form factor in early 2012, coinciding with availability of Intel’s E5-series Xeon processors that will replace the Xeon E56xx series used in the current-generation Mac Pro configurations.

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