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January 6, 2005

Apple upgrades Xserve CPUs

Apple Corp has upgraded the commercial versions of the Xserve 1U rack-mounted servers so they can have the same 2.3GHz PowerPC 970FX processors that the Virginia Tech uses in its 20 teraflops "System X" parallel supercomputer cluster.

By CBR Staff Writer

The upgraded Xserve G5 server has a frontside bus that runs at half the clock speed (like other Power architecture machines from IBM), yielding up to 9.2 GBps of memory bandwidth. The server can be equipped with up to 8GB of main memory, three 400GB Serial ATA disks (with optional RAID 5 data protection), and has two 64-bit PCI-X slots.

The PowerPC chips consume half the electricity of a Xeon chip with similar performance, so the high-performance-computing community might start to look at Xserves seriously now that Virginia Tech has blazed the trail. The base Xserve G5 with two 2.3GHz processors, 1GB of main memory, and an 80GB disk drive sells for $4,000. An Xserve with two of those processors, 2GB of main memory, and 1.2TB of disk capacity, costs $7,150.

In addition to the upgraded G5 server, Apple announced the Xsan storage area network file system for use with Mac OS X. Xsan is a 64-bit clustered file system for creating SANs, and it has been sorely needed in order for Apple to move into the high-performance-computing market in a big way, and into commercial computing in general.

Xsan will also allow customers in the digital media industry, where Apple desktops and servers are popular, to share files and to better collaborate on work. Apple is selling Xsan for $1,000 per client or server that accesses the file system. It has been certified on Xserve G4 and G5 machines and their associated Xserve RAID disk arrays, as well as on Power Mac G4 and G5 clients.

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