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Apple now shipping Xeon Xserves; unboxing photos

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Following a rather obscure multi-month delay, Apple Computer has finally been able to push the first shipments of its Xeon Xserve rack-mount systems out the door, tipsters tell AppleInsider.

The new Intel quad-core 1U servers were announced at the company's World Wide Developers Conference during the first week of August with an estimated ship date of October.

Last month came and went without word from the Mac maker as to when the first units would actually ship. It wasn't until about a week ago that customers who placed orders back in August began receiving their shipping notifications.

As can be seen from the below set of unpacking photos (thanks, Tom), Apple employs far less fashionable packing for the enterprise-level systems than it does for its consumer products. The units ship in a large, Xeon-stamped black box layered with styrofoam, accessory packs, mounting kits, and of course, the Xserve itself.

The quad-core systems -- which house two Dual-Core Intel Xeon chips -- feature an industry-leading high bandwidth server architecture that includes PCI Express, independent 1.33 GHz front side buses with 4MB of shared L2 cache, and fully-buffered DIMMs (FB-DIMMs).

Apple says the Xeon Xserve delivers up to four times the I/O bandwidth, up to three times the memory bandwidth and twice the storage bandwidth of the its previous generation Xserve G5 systems.

Customers can configure the new Xserves with two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors running either 2.0, 2.66 or 3.0 GHz; up to 32GB of 667 MHz DDR2 ECC FB-DIMM memory; and up to three 3Gb/s SATA or SAS drives totaling 2.25TB of hot-plug storage.

The new servers also ships with internal graphics that can drive up to a 23 inch Cinema Display and packs two eight-lane PCI Express expansion slots that provide up to 2GB/s of throughput each to support the next generation of fibre channel, networking and graphics cards. Pricing starts at $3000.

post #2 of 34
A completely superficial note: Heatsinks on the FB-DIMMs are considerably smaller, probably because of the massive cooling throughput present in rackmounts.
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post #3 of 34
Are you sure this is not Apples long rumored 30in laptop without the LCD attached? *drool*
post #4 of 34
Looks like a 1U Xserve, allright.
I wonder what the U of VA did with the 1,100 white shipping braces that you unscrew from these things. Hope there's some unique work of art somewhere.
post #5 of 34
Whoddathunk a rack mount server could look sexy.
post #6 of 34
Not much of a "Tip"... They had these shipping about 2 weeks ago when they updated Remote Desktop and such...
post #7 of 34
Why is the box so beat up?
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post #8 of 34
I'd like to see the testing on these.

I wonder if Apple solved the transaction processing on the Intel machines.
post #9 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Yohe

Not much of a "Tip"... They had these shipping about 2 weeks ago when they updated Remote Desktop and such...

YUP, they've been arriving for more than 2 weeks. People have been discussing them in the Apple Xserve support forum since then.

It would so help this sites credibility if errors like this weren't made.
post #10 of 34
dude that's the new tablet mac they sent you by mistake. you're gonna need an NDA now.
that is, after you return it for the imac you really ordered.
post #11 of 34
We're in Western Canada, and received our Intel Xserve yesterday. Here are our initial observations:

- the server can no longer be serviced while in the rack, as the top of the case (lid) must be unscrewed and removed to access any of the internals. This is a glaring oversight, and totally unnecessary. Both the previous Xserves (G5 and G5) had the ability to slide the unit forward while still mounted in the rack and (if preferable) even connected, providing access to the majority of components. The rack mounting gear is poorly conceived and strangely proprietary, with all rack mounting componentry (which will never be visible once installed) strangely done up in black...

- The new LOM (Lights Out Management) is handled via the (updated) Server Monitor application, and is configured via its own name and password for each interface (separate from the OS X user name/pwrd). Configuration of the LOM ID/pword is now and included step during Server Assistant. Bonus: ARD (Apple Remote Desktop) also provides access to the additional (LOM) fields.

- ADMs (Apple Drive Modules) are interchangable - in that not only can SAS and SATA coexist via the interconnect board (they are all recognized as SAS by the System Profiler), but previous generation G5 ADMs and standard SATA drives work without a hitch.

- The front panel LEDs are cleverly mutated in that the 2 rows (which previously represented each processor) are divided into 4 sections (half of each row, reading from left to right) - each representing a processor core. When booting the Xserve using the front panel LEDs, as the 7th LED used to represent Open Firmware (now replaced with Intel's EFI), it now jumps past to the 8th.

- The PCI riser cards are well designed in that you can combine (select) PCI, PCI-X, and/or PCIe hardware, provided you order the applicable riser card options, allowing the continued use of pre-existing older "legacy" hardware - ie: PCI-X fibre channel cards, etc...
Sadly, the enclosure's PCI slot mounting threads (the screw that holds the card in place) is made of plastic, and poorly designed in that it cannot be accessed on the only angle the chassis provides.

- The (one included) power supply is smaller than previous models, and there is a sprung hatch to keep airflow intact when only a single PS is present.

- This does appear to be an Apple built and designed board, as it has a much nicer fit and finish than the course (Intel built ?) Mac Pro boards.

- The Xserve NetBoots from an existing 10.4.8 (client) build without issue, so thats reassuring, as custom OS builds always pose intermediate compatibility issues...

Further examination is necessary and inevitable, so stay tuned, and please chime in with your own assessments !
post #12 of 34
Mmmm.... hardware pr0n....
post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider

Apple employs far less fashionable packing for the enterprise-level systems than it does for its consumer products.

Well, you mean just like the Mac Pro?
post #14 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheep

dude that's the new tablet mac they sent you by mistake. you're gonna need an NDA now.
that is, after you return it for the imac you really ordered.

It's more like a stone tablet mac based on the form factor.
post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by benzene

A completely superficial note: Heatsinks on the FB-DIMMs are considerably smaller, probably because of the massive cooling throughput present in rackmounts.

Something like that, I think they are ordinary FB-DIMMs rather than ones with custom heat sinks. The tolerance for noise is a lot higher for servers, they are often hidden away in some isolated room anyway, so cooling isn't an issue, just crank up a few fans if they need to. Server hardware often makes quite a racket, if you think generic desktop PCs are often loud, you would be in for a surprise. They aren't just loud, when put together, they can be damaging loud, some server rooms require ear plugs to prevent hearing damage. I have no experience with Xserves though.

Workstations often can be loud though, but in my limited experience, they aren't nearly so bad. My PMG5 dual is the loudest workstation I've ever used and it is still a lot quieter than any server I've seen. Mac Pro is the quietest workstation I've ever used.
post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by veberfetzel

- the server can no longer be serviced while in the rack, as the top of the case (lid) must be unscrewed and removed to access any of the internals. This is a glaring oversight, and totally unnecessary. Both the previous Xserves (G5 and G5) had the ability to slide the unit forward while still mounted in the rack and (if preferable) even connected, providing access to the majority of components. The rack mounting gear is poorly conceived and strangely proprietary, with all rack mounting componentry (which will never be visible once installed) strangely done up in black...

The real issue is uptime. you couldn't really replace any of the comonents on-the-fly anyhow, so servicing the machine always involved a shutdown. The new mechanism of mounting the system via rails is far more elegant. It also makes for a much easier/quicker mass-deployment. You can fill entire racks with rails, and just come slide the guts in. Plus, when those guts are sitting in a pile off to the side, the innards are better protected. I would have liked to have seen a 50/50 splitting top, however, but this is a minor quibble. Sliding the entire machine out is a minor annoyance and doesn't add much time to a repair process that is one of the easiest in the industry.
post #17 of 34
I like the little slide out card they added on the back with the servers specs.
nice touch.
post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella

I like the little slide out card they added on the back with the servers specs.
nice touch.

Completely agreed. There was no real place on the back of the machine to list hostname/IP information. It is a welcome addition.
post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by kim kap sol

Whoddathunk a rack mount server could look sexy.


It's all in the plastic
post #20 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by walshbj

Why is the box so beat up?

That is nothing...HP servers show up in worse shape than that and we are about 100 miles away from the assembling factory (who so generously offered my $10/Hr to hand build servers...who I told to **** off...)

Also, the QC on HP servers is lacking...one thing I can say in Apples favor is that it appears that everything is hooked up right -- as screwy as this sounds, we have had servers mis-wired from the factory(why the fuck would you plug 4 SCSI drives directly into the mainboard along with the system drives when there is a hi-end raid controller in the case!!?!?!?!?!)
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post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella

I like the little slide out card they added on the back with the servers specs.
nice touch.

Standard on the HPs ...at least the ProLiants that I have seen...also they have the same thing in the front with a little space to write the name and function of the server and it has the support number...also the HPs have the S/N engraved and/or on a plaque or sticker on the front and back, making inventory and warrenty calls a snap.
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post #22 of 34
Dear Apple: bring out a 3-u xserve with built in RAID cages and redundent memory banks! you cannot imagine how cool it is having a bank of memory on standby in the domain controller or NAS controller if one stick goes bad in the middle of peak production (which is the only time it happens of cource!)
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post #23 of 34
I admit it looks very cool... now can anyone think how I can justify buying one for home? What the heck could I use it for...?
post #24 of 34
Another interesting note about the Xeon Xserves is that it's about an inch deeper than the Xserve G5! I was looking at the ones we just got, and the black rails do seem an odd touch considering everything about the Xserve is silver. I am not too sure I like having to remove the Xserve to service it. I think it was easier adding memory the way the Xserve G5s were setup, but I configured my Xeon Xserves with the memory I wanted. I probably won't be adding memory for a year or so minimum, although 1 never knows.
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post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishan

I admit it looks very cool... now can anyone think how I can justify buying one for home? What the heck could I use it for...?

Hypothetically, you could use it as a render node if you were into video editing or 3D animation work, but it really doesn't make sense to use it at home.
post #26 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishan

I admit it looks very cool... now can anyone think how I can justify buying one for home? What the heck could I use it for...?

Yeah dude I'm feeling very inadequate at the moment hearing all these 1337 peoples prattle on about their server room stories

I last saw a server room almost 3 years ago.... *sniff* ....And never saw a bunch of xServes

Though in 2000-2001 there was a ton of PowerMac G4s in the server room at an SF Bay Area company I was working at ...Ah, memories. Frack me, two 1U racks of Xserve Xeons could have replaced like 10 of those PowerMac G4s in that server room.....
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishan

I admit it looks very cool... now can anyone think how I can justify buying one for home? What the heck could I use it for...?

If you have like a library of 50 DVD movies you could use it as a dedicated machine to just do all the conversion to smaller, yet same great resolution/quality H.264 videos..... But you'd have to buy a server rack to fit it into. And put it in an air-con room in summer
post #28 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishan

I admit it looks very cool... now can anyone think how I can justify buying one for home? What the heck could I use it for...?

File server? Overkill, but damn cool overkill.
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post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by mynamehere

Lots and lots of family photos, or video (I'm thinking ripped DVDs) which could then be available for watching to anyone on the home network. That's what I'd use it for anyhow.

Photos and videos aren't hard to store or serve. The initial re-encoding of video might take a lot of time, but it's a one-time job. For the same price as a base Xserve, with just one 80GB hard drive, you can buy a mini and nine 500MB mini Stack hard drives.
post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by DHagan4755

Another interesting note about the Xeon Xserves is that it's about an inch deeper than the Xserve G5! I was looking at the ones we just got, and the black rails do seem an odd touch considering everything about the Xserve is silver. I am not too sure I like having to remove the Xserve to service it. I think it was easier adding memory the way the Xserve G5s were setup, but I configured my Xeon Xserves with the memory I wanted. I probably won't be adding memory for a year or so minimum, although 1 never knows.

It is on rails and assuming you use proper cable management you should be able to slide it forward, pop the top and do your business...besides, the only time you should have to open it is to add ram or replace failed equipment...and for the most part, if your server isnt DOA, and stays up for the first few HRs with no hiccupos, you are in the clear on that... and if you spec the server correctly for its duty, you shouldnt need more ram...unless you do other upgrades like new software versions before the next hardware cycle.
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post #31 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM

Photos and videos aren't hard to store or serve. The initial re-encoding of video might take a lot of time, but it's a one-time job. For the same price as a base Xserve, with just one 80GB hard drive, you can buy a mini and nine 500MB mini Stack hard drives.

Or a super-powerfull dual core AMD-64 beige box ,load it with Linux, rip and encode your stuff, then serve up to all the Macs on the LAN via NFS for well under $1500

Who cares if the server has a slick UI, servers are a utilitarian thing, paying a premium for an Apple server for anything other than work group management/app deployment is insain.
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post #32 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_greer

....Or a super-powerfull dual core AMD-64 beige box....

Nah. Overclocked Core2Duo (Conroe) E6400 -- 2.+ ghz to 3ghz easy on stock cooling. Cheap and powerful for all one's ripping and encoding tasks.

By the way, I've hit the aesthetic gold mine - DVD-Rip using MacTheRipper, then XVID via FFMPEGX, 640x360 (for 16:9) Qmin3 Qmax3 --- let's just say 44 minutes is about 260mb. Set bitrate to 1500 - don't worry because the Qmin Qmax is constant, so the bitrate will be, whatever it is, even if you set it to 1500, it'll work out the appropriate bitrate on the fly. On average with TV shows, you get 16:9, 44 minutes weighing in at 260mb. SCORE. Be sure to adjust brightness to 5, contrast to 12 or something like that. Crop 4,4,4,4 to make sure you don't get any extraneous edges (sometimes with some DVDs, older ones usually)... Crop accordingly for 16:9 or 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 of course. XVID has even in single pass, an ability to make the "blockiness" almost "painterly" if the source is film-mastered-encoded-to-DVD-Mpeg2 (most of the recent TV shows and movies released on DVD) and shot with a short depth of field. I find adjusting the contrast upwards prevents XVID from artifacting most notably on shades of grey -- or darker shades of colours, it blocks up bad, though not majorly noticable unless you're an aesthete when it comes to encoding... But yeah bumping the contrast up makes the colour gradations more distinct and XVID handles that alright. Subtle dark shade gradations not so good.

You will notice that TV shows and movies -- sequences which are "effect" with a very high contrast, stark-looking images, particularly "a hot LA daylight flashback sequence" -- in XVID the imagery "pops" off the LCD screen real well.

Yeah, someday I wanna be a Director of Photography... \ Working with film stock and different lenses and all that stuff is way cool. Though digital is banging hard on the door. But dreams give hope, you don't have to fly every airline or the newest or oldest plane to be in the clouds.

I love a film magazine review of "Miami Vice" - to paraphrase - The picture is grainy and the dialog inaudible but at least the soundtrack is kinda cool, if you can handle a Moby sample over and over washing through the movie. Heh. That whole drugs- cops- and- robbers lingo was pretty much jibberish. Most of the time I had to look at Jamie Foxx's expressions to try and get what the hell they were actually doing/ planning/ not doing/ not planning.

Yeah, anyway... FFMPEGX... that's on the iBook G4 933mhz. With the right software on WinXPPro2 on a 3ghz Conroe with 2GB of RAM, just a 7200rpm SATA drive, or RAID[0+1] across say 4 200GB(or more...?) SATA drives, sweet.

Once the ripping and encoding is done though, then move it to the silent and cool Mac Mini (as suggested several posts up) + FW400 DriveStack that's RAID1'd (but how is data recovery on Mac OSX Raid 1????) as a movie server. [insert: .....iTV ..!!!!]
Heh.
post #33 of 34
Apologies for cross-posting but I know a few members from different threads were interested in this.

First off the block: Fujitsu reveals realtime hardware-encoding of H.264. Woot.
http://www.fujitsu.com/global/news/p...061130-01.html

Max res though is 1440 x 1080 , with 1920 x 1080 planned. 90nm LSI (large-scale integrated circuit).

I know tons of people on Mac and Windows and Linux that would *KILL* for this to be smoothly integrated into a GPU chipset. Or just an add-on card, that's cool too. HELLO INTEL, NVIDIA, ATI, AMD, YA HEAR US???? HARDWARE H.264 encoding!!! Now!!! Wooooooooo
post #34 of 34
Above info thanks to hardmac.com who also recommends the x264 codec for H.264 encoding via quicktime, claims faster, better, more options, etc. Should be for OSX, Universal Binary, AFAIK. Link here: https://developer.berlios.de/projects/x264qtcodec/
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