back to article Apple guns Xserve and Mac Pro to 11

Screw all the namby-pamby gadgets being dished out by weaklings at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Big Iron - not gizmos - is where it's at, as far as Apple is concerned. Apple has popped fresh four-core chips from Intel into a new Xserve and new Mac Pro. The eight core, dual processor machines may not count as Big …

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Unhappy

Not even a good magician

Serious about enterprise, eh? Wow, Apple's tongue is so deep in it's cheek with this offer, I'm surprised the rep didn't choke over the PR script (before making a quick escape stage-left).

Sure the base price is in line, but - whoa!... Can anyone say, "bait n' switch"?

Anyone serious about Macs or computers (as I am), knows to avoid Apple's obscene premium for basic add-ons, like RAM and disk space. This sleight of hand sales tactic doesn't go over to well with professional and enterprise users.

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Oh please

Enterprise users just buy the ram and other bits from someone other than Apple. It isn't a big deal and we have been doing it for, quite literally, decades now.

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Unhappy

Where's the Blu-Ray?

Now that Pioneer have a reasonably priced BD 'superdrive', I was very much expecting Apple to a) build one into the new MacPro or offer it as a BTO and b) release a new version of DVDSP that can author direct to BD. Come on Apple, we can't wait until NAB and we HATE using Windows based 'solutions'.

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The 1RU XServe hole in the head

Again, Apple manages to avoid releasing the Apple server product people in their core small business market might actually want.

I've always wondered where the 2RU or 3RU XServe - "Now with drive bays!" - was. Apple seem to prefer to push their slow, expensive, and rather inferior XServe RAID product rather than providing a workgroup server with room for useful amounts of internal storage. Given the price, you'd think they could afford to offer a couple of different case sizes.

Our XServe also spends its entire time with the fans maxed out and screaming. It appears to be made to run in rooms air conditioned to "frigid". A larger unit would allow room for better airflow and larger, slower fans as well as being more flexible.

The problem with internal storage has become particularly galling since Apple moved from four to three internal bays on the 1RU XServe. With four bays you could at least run two RAID 1 arrays or a RAID10 ; with three you're limited to a RAID1 plus a spare, a RAID 1 across three disks for extra redundancy, a RAID 1 plus a non-redundant disk, or an inefficient RAID 5 array. A 2RU model could easily manage a much more useful six drive bays.

I suspect they expect small-ish businesses to just buy a Mac Pro and fit it out as a server.

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... and then there's the disks.

Another lovely XServe issue I forgot to mention is that Apple like to charge so much for their hot swap disk enclosures that it's cheaper to buy disks from Apple than to buy just the enclosures. Even at Apple's often obscene disk prices. The machine comes with blanks instead of usable disk enclosures for any bays not configured with a disk at purchase.

At least they now offer SAS on the Mac Pro. I was previously stunned that they only offered 7200rpm disks to go with their ... er ... pair of quad core Xeons . WTF?!? They could've at least offered 10K RPM SATA disks. As it is they make sure that if you want SAS you pay through the nose - no smaller & cheaper SAS disks for OS, swap, apps, etc for you!

I'm a little bitter since my work recently went Mac despite the fact that we were able to get *much* better hardware for a lot less cash and the same apps by going for Precision workstations. So, instead of reasonably balanced Core 2 duo boxes with fast SAS disks we have massively overpowered xeon workstations with crappy 7200 rpm disks that cost almost twice as much, have inferior warranty terms, and need an entirely new server platform to be introduced to the network. Yay!

--

Craig Ringer

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Anonymous Coward

re. Craig

I'm sorry but i fail to see the logic in your frustration being pointed at Apple.

Since 1998 Apple have made it blatantly clear that one of their big strategies is a simplified product line-up. So i doubt that there'll be a 2U XServe ever.. That's for a market of customers that are big enough to have server racks but too small to have SANs and only a had full of servers ie. prime Microsoft territory - definitely not one of Apple's market slices.

Small businesses overwhelmingly use tower servers - eg. the MacPro.

Enterprises, media, .edu overwhemingly use 1u pizza or blade servers with centralised storage - eg. XServe (and yes they have server rooms, and yes they're set at 19-22 celsius.)

XServe RAID is pretty crappy compared to other disk systems - i guess it's lucky that you can use any SAN disk system you like, as well as any FC Switching infrastructure as well as external SCSI enclosures.

As for disks and prices, I only have experience with Dell, Apple and IBM in terms of servers, but all three of them only provide working bay-slot-thingies with ordered disks, have very high prices for disks, and useless baffles for the drive bays you didn't populate at purchase time.

In terms of 7200 rpm with Xeons - you're dead right and i'm glad they addressed this. 10k SATA would have been unlikely though as the only vendor is WD, meaning most box pushers avoid offering something they can't get an alternative off when price negotiations go bad. That's why you don't see many other workstations with 10k SATA disks from other vendors.

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Price of add-ons

Those here seeing the price of Mac Pro add-ons such as memory and disc space as prohibitive (which they are, shame on Apple) should simply buy them from someone else - they are pig-easy to fit and you will save shedloads, without any compromise on performance.

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Gold badge
Flame

@Craig

>It appears to be made to run in rooms air conditioned to "frigid".

Or an American office as it's more usually know. The only place in the world I've ever been where you need to keep a warm pullover at your desk to put on, even though it's well over 100 degrees F outside. The transition from outdoors to in is deeply unpleasant as the contrast makes the office temperature feel like a Siberian winter.

Smokers need to cultivate a level of bloody-mindedness far in excess of that required to stand, damp and shirt-sleeved, in cold British drizzle.

(I've chosen the flame icon as I'm off for a drag and need something to keep me warm.)

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RAM

I recently wanted to upgrade my iMac to 2GB which meant buying a 1GB card (fortunately my iMac came with a single 1GB card rather than 2 512MB ones). Apple's price was £90! I got on the web and ended up buying 2x2GB instead for £65. Apple memory prices are nuts, but then again so is anyone who buys their RAM from Apple.

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Boffin

re: re. Craig

@AC: "As for disks and prices, I only have experience with Dell, Apple and IBM in terms of servers, but all three of them only provide working bay-slot-thingies with ordered disks, have very high prices for disks, and useless baffles for the drive bays you didn't populate at purchase time."

I can't speak for IBM, but our Dell servers come with fully functional hot-swap bays, even if you don't fully populate them at purchase (although you may have to spring for an additional RAID controller if you want to do it properly!)

According to Apple and Dell UK ordering sites, a 300GB 15K SAS drive is £100 cheaper for the Dell (and you don't have to buy an additional hot-swap bay, either)

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Black Helicopters

re: Where's the Blu-Ray?

Chances are they won't include BR into the official Mac builds until they've put HDCP and other "secure rendering paths" into the OS X rendering engine... and that's big enough a change to warrant a completely new cat.

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Thumb Up

re: Price of add-ons

Yes, indeed there is at least one specialist doing 32GB in the required matched pairs for the MacPro what with that plus 4TB of disk it's cheaper than a Mac Pro with 16GB and piddly disk 8-)

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Boffin

Price and Spec

@Craig Ringer

I strongly suspect given what I think their target market is, Apple expect you to go for one of the following options for the Xserve kit.

Standalone server:

- Single large drive

- 2 large drives in Raid1 or perhaps 3 large drives in Raid3 configuration.

- 3 large drives in Raid1 + spare configuration. (For the paranoid)

Clustered or redundant server sharing a rack with a bunch of other Xserve boxes:

- 1 small root drive or perhaps 2 small drives as Raid1

and

- FC card fitted with working file systems mounted from an external Xserve raid unit (Which can take up to 12 drives iirc) via a FC hub.

The first scenario is more your new media company running individual web/mail/database servers, while the latter is more your visual media company setup with multiple workgroup or rendering boxes in a rack.

As for the price of spares, SUN are just as bad. One thing I would say about Apples stupidly expensive RAM is that it *is* ECC, which tends to be a whole lot more exensive that non-ecc. Still I can't see how they can justify some of their prices, especially for hard drives.

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IT Angle

Educational Pricing

Click on the max upgrades, with educational pricing (just an exercise in futility) and you have this monstrosity for only $69,891 !

That is more that the annual salary for most public school technician(s) if they are lucky enough to even afford one technician.

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Anonymous Coward

RAM...

I recently purchashed a MacBook Pro 17" Intel 2.4Ghz Core2Duo with 2Gb of RAM from the Refurb part of the Apple store, saved myself $500 on the regualar list price, I asked Apple if it was possible to up the memory... It was if I splashed out $1000.00 for the kit (2x2Gb dimms) but they'd ship them free! but I'd have to fit them myself...

Online I found the same chips for $100.00 - I did have to pay shipping ($15.00 for second working day - big deal) oh - and I had to fit them myself...

I got the same excellant service and saved myself a cool $885.00 and now have 2x1Gb dimm for a MacBook Pro (Apple originated) that I'd be delighted to sell to anyone - at Apple prices of course!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Doubled up

I was pricing up a Mac Pro at the request of one of the Profs. at work yesterday and they obviously boosted the specs sometime between when I first looked and when I went back to order it. So now he'll have an octo-core machine to handle his e-mailing, word processing and a spot of Powerpoint.

The dual 2.8GHz quad-core actually came in cheaper than the dual 2.66GHz dual-core that was listed earlier in the day. Still 'spensive tho.

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News??

How is it that Apple feels the need to brag about "The fastest Ever Mac Pro" every 6-8 months when they add a new cpu to the lineup? Thats even less news than when they released the "World's first Mac Pro!". Was someone else going to release it first?

And the most expandable Mac ever has 2 optical drive bays and 4 hdd bays? Every PC mini tower since the dawn of time has been able to do that. I could never believe that Apple some how got away with 2 (of the all-time most difficult to access) harddisc bays in their G5s.

@AC:

"""2 large drives in Raid1 or perhaps 3 large drives in Raid3 configuration."""

Who in the hell uses a raid 3? I thought that concept only existed to make it easier to explain what a raid 5 was. Then again, if you're buying an xserve for a file server you might just think a raid 3 is brilliant.

""" One thing I would say about Apples stupidly expensive RAM is that it *is* ECC, which tends to be a whole lot more exensive that non-ecc."""

You have to realize that Apple's prices are extreme even compared to other workstation / server vendors', and they pretty much all use ECC memory. Hell I don't think that you can (or ever have been able to) use non-ECC ram with an Opteron, which I hear are used in the occasional server and workstation.

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