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Apple Quietly Adds Xserve Clustering Model For Cheaper Cluster Networks

Apple Quietly Adds Xserve Clustering Model For Cheaper Cluster Networks

by , 6:00 PM EST, March 18th, 2003

Thanks to an eagle-eyed Slashdot reader, we can tell you that Apple has quietly released a new model in the Xserve line for Clusters. Called the Cluster Node, the new unit is designed to work with networks of "clustered" Xserves that are usually cooperatively working on tasks such as rendering. Clustered networks are a way of bringing massive computing power to a task without buying a super-expensive mainframe. Such networks are often comprised of computers that are only interfaced through a command line or cluster networking software.

Accordingly, the Cluster Node doesn't have a video card, or an optical drive, and is also limited to one drive bay. It also includes a copy of Mac OS X Server that is limited to 10 clients, rather than the unlimited client license provided with the other models. The trade off is that it's US$1,000 cheaper in a dual processor configuration than its more full-featured cousin, which is the same price as if being charged for the full-featured single processor version. From the description on the Xserve page:

Xserve cluster configuration
Designed for the computational clusters and distributed applications, this Xserve configuration delivers high-density processing power — without the server features you won't need in a cluster environment — for a price that's easy to multiply across your deployment.

The Xserve technical specifications page adds this:

Or choose the stripped-down speed metal version for your clustering needs. Distributed applications don't require various server technologies, so this Xserve doesn't have them. That means you can add more Xserve systems for a bigger cluster.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the features offered with each model:

Single Processor - US$2,799.00

  • 1.33GHz PowerPC G4
  • 2MB L3 cache
  • 256MB DDR333 SDRAM
  • 60GB ATA/133 ADM
  • Mac OS X Server (Unlimited client)
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • CD-ROM slot load drive
  • ATI Graphics Card with VGA

Dual-Processor - US$3,799.00

  • Dual 1.33GHz PowerPC G4
  • 2MB L3 cache per processor
  • 512MB DDR333 SDRAM
  • 60GB ATA/133 ADM
  • Mac OS X Server (Unlimited client)
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • CD-ROM slot load drive
  • ATI graphics card with VGA

Cluster NodeUS$2,799.00

  • Dual 1.33GHz PowerPC G4
  • 2MB L3 cache per processor
  • 256MB DDR333 SDRAM
  • 60GB ATA/133 ADM
  • Mac OS X Server (10 client)
  • Gigabit Ethernet

You can find more information on the Xserve at Apple's Web site. As noted above the Cluster Node is priced at US$2,799. The estimated shipping time, according to the online Apple Store, is 6-8 weeks.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This is a smart move for Apple, and one that will further attract the attention of IT types. Apple's pricing was already very competitive for the blade market, and the Cluster node really steps up that competitive another notch. This should really give Apple another boost in credibility in this area.

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