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 doesnit 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 itis 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 wonit need in a cluster environment for a price thatis 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 donit require various server technologies, so this Xserve doesnit have them. That means you can add more Xserve systems for a bigger cluster.
Hereis a side-by-side comparison of the features offered with each model:
Single Processor - US$2,799.00
Dual-Processor - US$3,799.00
You can find more information on the Xserve at Appleis 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.