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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Apple ships Xserve, Mac Pro With 8-Core Xeon

This is Apple's latest Mac Pro, unveiled Tuesday. Click for more pictures of it and the latest Xserve.
Apple got a little business out of the way before next week's Macworld extravaganza, announcing new versions of the Mac Pro and Xserve to go along with new Intel chips.

These systems are very high-end computers, designed for heavy work rather than organizing photos of your latest trip to St. Louis. Both the Mac Pro and the Xserve are available with two of Intel's Xeon 5400 series quad-core processors, and come with loads of memory and other performance-oriented features, like RAID hard drives

(24hoursnews)The company is marketing to IT-challenged small businesses that want computers capable of terabyte storage and improved graphics capabilities.

Apple on Tuesday introduced a more powerful Xserve aimed at organizations with limited IT support, such as small businesses or departments in larger companies.
In addition, the company launched a Mac Pro with twice the performance of the previous version of the workstation for creative professionals and research organizations. Apple unveiled the new products a week before the Macworld conference opens in San Francisco.

Both new products are under $3,000 and come standard with two Intel Xeon quad-core chips, codenamed Harpertown, which were released only last month. Last year, the same custom design would have cost $4,000.

"One of the advantages in using Harpertown is that it packs a lot more performance per watt in the same thermal envelope," Tom Boger, senior director of desktop, servers and storage product marketing at Apple, told InformationWeek. "Just by itself, the Harpertown processor raw is a 60% improvement over the previous configuration [Cloverton]."

Apple designed the hardware and software in the new products to take advantage of Harpertown's low-power capabilities, Boger said. The new machines can show as much as a 2x performance boost with some third-party applications. In addition, Apple is offering in both machines terabyte hard-drive capabilities for the first time.

With the new Xserve, Apple is also drawing attention to the Mac OS X Leopard Server operating system as a strong competitor to other products aimed at organizations without large IT staffs. The 1U rack server can operate in a mixed environment of Macs and Windows clients, and is powered by two Xeon 5400 series processors running up to 3.0GHz. The chips are Intel's latest 45 nanometer manufactured processors, which top previous products in power and energy consumption.

The new Xserve includes up to 3 Tbytes of internal storage and two PCI Express 2.0 expansion slots that provide up to four times the input/output bandwidth of the previous model to support 4 Gbit Fibre channel and 10 Gbit Ethernet cards.

Apple has added accelerated graphics to the new Xserve to support several Apple Cinema Displays at once. The new product also includes two FireWire 800 and three USB 2.0 ports, and comes with a license for unlimited client seats. The starting price is $2,999.

The latest server draws attention to Leopard's capabilities as an OS for small businesses and other organizations that can't afford large IT staffs, industry analysts with Technology Business Research said in an e-mailed commentary.

"TBR believes this package is a strong offering wherever IT services are limited," the market research firm said. "Apple will use the value proposition of easy-to-use comprehensive services to broaden its market to small businesses and departments, where Xserve is an ideal first server."

Included with Leopard Server are mail hosting, Web hosting, file sharing, client management, network management and security, VPN, chat, search, and directory services, TBR said.

With the new Mac Pro workstation, Apple is offering its fastest Mac through the use of two Xeon 5400 series processors running up to 3.2GHz. The machine comes standard with an ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card with 256 Mbytes of video memory.

The machine includes a PCI Express 2.0 graphics slot that delivers twice the bandwidth as previous generations, and can be upgraded with Nvidia graphics cards, such as the GeForce 8800 GT with 512MB of video memory, and the Quadro FX 5600 with 1.5GB of memory.

The system can carry up to four 1Tbyte Serial ATA hard drives, and includes nine ports for external devices, including five USB 2.0s, two FireWire 400s and two FireWire 800s. The Mac Pro also supports SAS drives, which run at a higher rate than SATA drives and provide RAID 0, 1 and 5 storage protection.

Pricing for the new desktop machine starts at $2,799.

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