back to article Apple media server rumored for Macworld Expo

The pre-Macworld Expo rumor machine has been in low gear this year - perhaps due to Apple's SVP Phil Schiller taking over keynote duties from His Steveness - but thanks to 9to5Mac, we have a new bit of speculation to report: an internet-based media server from Apple. This scuttlebutt comes hot on the heels of HP's recent …

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  1. s. pam
    Thumb Down

    Disaster Eminent -- Details at 11!

    Let's see, mishmash of technology from Apple -- check!

    Unstable / unreliable TimeCapsule to lose media files like it does my backups -- check!

    Slap file system onto TimeCapsule which doesn't like end-users accessing it -- crikey!

    Grab roll or duct tape and bailing wire with pretty plastic ribbons -- check!

    Find leftover AppleTV code that never worked @ bargain basement sale -- Yup!

    Voila -- something that will be marketed like mad and be rubbish in the end.

    And before you PC naysayers pounce, I'm an Apple customer for years.......

  2. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo

    Secret Fish

    Sounds like wishful thinking to me.

    I mean I'd like it, but it just sounds like someone's checklist of what they'd like instead of what Apple would do.

  3. Ed

    Has potential

    I've used TimeCapsule for the last few months and it seems to have worked fine. Hasn't lost anything, and just sits in a cupboard and does it's stuff.

    It'd be nice if this was a free upgrade for TimeCapsule - nothing mentioned here suggests it couldn't be.

  4. Mick F
    Thumb Down

    You forgot something!!

    Built in DRM - knee deep and locking you in to iTunes for the next 1000 years.

  5. EnigmaForce
    Coat

    Wow

    How revolutionary.

  6. jai
    Jobs Halo

    "designed for use in households with both PCs and Macs"

    so, the HP is "designed for use in households with both PCs and Macs" and Apple's won't be?

    yet, the next sentence in the article says how the HP can only be configured on windoze

    how's that different from the Apple solution if it can only be configured on a mac?

    in fact, you're likely to be wrong, because beign a media device, the configuration is likely to be done from within iTunes in the same way that it configures your iPhone and the AppleTV currently, and so it's possible on both mac and pc - whereas the HP solution is the one limited to just the one platform

    i assume you meant that it'll likely only support the audio and video formats that iTunes and the AppleTV/iPod/iPhone do? yet you make no mention of the formats HP supports and that has nothing to do with the platform that it is configured from.

    another great unbiased Rik Myslewski article

  7. Gareth Irwin

    Don't see

    How they can put raid of any configuration in a time capsule box.

  8. Steven Raith
    Alert

    RAID5?

    What with Snow Leapord apparently having ZFS as the default file system, is it not more likely to be a ZFS RAID-Z/RAID-Z2 array? That would allow a non-hardware RAID card to be used, and as such be cheaper, no?

    Or have I completely misunderstood how ZFS works?

    Steven R

  9. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    Compare the approach.

    Step back from the PC-vs-Mac arguments a sec and think - both vendors are taking tech and making a consumer solution. Both will sell to respective markets and probably quite well. Both vendors will profit and survive. Then consider Sun, which simply throws tech like ZFS out the door, trumpets it as "cutting egde", etc, etc, and fails to make any money from it. Sun seriously needs to ditch Ponytail and poach some senior Apple, Dell or HP execs if they want to survive.

    Of course, in the meantime I'll carry on using my DRM-free and much, much cheaper home-built Linux NAS (it even has hardware RAID5).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Errr

    Any reason you couldn't adminster the HP server from the mac by using remote desktop?

    I'll get me coat

  11. alphaxion

    I wonder

    I wonder if this means apple is working on a means of syncing your ipod/iphone with media that is centrally stored instead of having to make copies of them on every system on the network.

    Prolly not, which means a copy of the media on your PC and a copy on your Mac home server.

  12. Tom Silver badge
    Jobs Halo

    Why not raidz?

    Pretty easy really - you can run a nice raid 5 setup on a simple processor and a small amount of RAM, where as raidz is extremely expensive in terms of memory. The way zfs is put together it basically assumes that it will always be able to grab more kmem, so I wouldn't expect to see a consumer system designed around zfs without at least 2 GB of RAM, compared to the 256 MB needed for RAID5.

    It's a pity, as RAID5 really isn't a reliable enough for a backup solution - I have seen far too many double disk failures on RAID where the 2nd failure was only detected as a consequence of resilvering following a single disk failure. That simply cannot happen on RAIDZ.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I would like

    Is for itunes to support more file formats, and a way of having a central media libirary which any machine can access, mac using itunes or maybe a PC use media player, all it needs to be is a file system, that you point the front end app at.

    Oh and for the iTunes music streaming to airports to be opened up, so other apps can use, cant seem to get it to work with front row for example.

    My chances of get any of this, zip!!

    I guess i could set up some form of naz and point iTunes at it, but I dont think it would behave like a proper itunes library.

    One step forward two back.

  14. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    "File-system which doesn't like end-users accessing it"

    Er, I might be in a minority here but I'm a big fan of AFP (which is the apple file sharing protocol - I assume is what you mean by filesystem).

    We run it on our Linux server: Unlike NFS it handles unexpected disconnects nicely, easily handles different userids on different machines, and thanks to Bonjour is autodetected by all the machines in our Mac shop. Unlike Samba - god, where to begin? File permissions work, passwords don't need to be stored in a seperate DB and I don't have the "I know it's running but I can't see it" issue so beloved of Windows File sharing.

    The only catch is out of the box the Linux server implementation doesn't work with any recent Mac, thanks to a licensing discrepancy between OpenSSL and Netatalk (another triumph for open source). Recompile it and it works a treat.

    As for the rest - sounds good, but RAID-5? How are they going to fit three drives in a Time Capsule-like format? How are you going to replace duff ones? A caddy system? Back to store? Nope, I call shenanigans.

  15. Mr Michael Guy
    Flame

    add ZFS RAIDZ, it's going to cost enough anyway

    I can't really see it being a SAN/NAS/RAID media box, personally.

    though, a mac mini with DVI + HDMI + a lacie 5big type setup in a single case/cube, and perhaps a blu-ray drive for 1080p content, it's nice. comfortable. i'd buy one. though it would cost 2x more than a PS3. and really, do a lot less.

    it's likely more desirable than a PS3 too. in serious comparison though, the wide range of colourful and feature-packed RAID5 boxes are a dime a dozen (give or take 3 thousand to 7 thousand dimes), and arguably, HP's media server would be remarkably hard to improve upon without a prolific cost increase.

    though apple's pricing usually makes sane people cringe, a $1500+/600e+ time capsule i.e. a multi-terabyte appleTV + time capsule hybrid would be futile and catastrophic for apple, (though very handy for XBMC/boxee users ultimately)

    mostly due to the fact that people don't like spending $1000+ on what's essentially a PVR that doesn't record. it would really have to do a lot more than appleTV or time capsule. a lot more.

    my notion is, since it's likely to come out around the time of Snow Leopard, the addition of a cutdown revision of OSX server using ZFS for RAID0/1/5/6 with a classically brilliantly simple GUI interface. since ZFS includes automatic snapshots, automatic integrity checks, radically different journalling & rebuilds to checksum & protect data. apart from the gushing nature of ZFS, it's got actual data integrity checks which should increase the safety or useful life of a multi-hdd system exponentially.

    additionally, and more importantly, the inclusion of openCL to accelerate encoding x264 video would indeed be pretty handy on a media box for transcoding/content shifting.

    as 1080p x264 decode would be a functional requirement of any post-2008 AppleTV derivative, it's likely got the facility to encode x264 as well as decode, which is an open challenge for hackers, and more of a curiousity for regular users. but i can't see apple touting the ability to rip DVD's or watch Blu-Ray media, etc. when it would be handy for AppleTV HD movies -> iphone re-encodes if it could encode via the GPU, and still keep their DRM teeth attached to the end-product.

    and, since it's going to be a flagbearing apple product, it might actually work out of the box for regular non-itunes store / non mobileme / non-iphone users as well. but dont' expect miracles.

    i suppose a saturated market didn't stop the appleTV, or the airport extreme, or even the ipod, from the approach of tweaking a regular product and locking it into an apple-only service, but storage is going to be a tough nut to crack, it's still irrationally expensive compared to single-disk solutions like the Time Capsule NAS..

    likely what would be intriguing would be a $900 or so diskless mac mini/xserve, with a compatible geforce go chipset, in a decently polished cube case, replete with backlit venting ducts/ports/go-faster-racing stripes in the middle to separate mainboard/HDD heat without being too loud or obnoxious i.e. 160mm blowers or something crazy.

    add a few dozen ports to connect firewire/ethernet/USB devices on the back, an apple logo somewhere on the thing, and a door to close over such trivial things as power buttons, drive status indicators, etc. as for design, probably good to avoid the Lacie fetish thing, perhaps the White/Red HAL9000 eye instead of the Blue Hal9000 eye of the 5big model ? sounds good so far. maybe even put in some IR tracking so the backlit grey apple logo light follows you around the room, etc. so, big, expensive, convoluted, creepy, sounds like fun so far.

  16. Robert Moore
    Jobs Halo

    According to my sources

    There will be no media server. But instead.

    1. The death of AppleTV

    2. Release of the new Mac Mini/TV

    3. Early release of Snow Leopard.

    His Steveness told me. :)

  17. Richard Cartledge

    Networked Homes

    Networked Home Directories at home on a small, silent low wattage and cheap server with WIFI would be great for me, so that my files are in a single location, rather than on each separate computer and media centre.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Configuration

    What happened to configuring network devices from a browser? Why are we back to writing separate configuration apps?

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