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Xserve G5: the “Pupae butterflies”

13.11.2018 - Apple, History
Xserve G5: the “Pupae butterflies”

2004 for Apple and the world was the year of the iPod, but in the beginning of the year about it no one knew. In that year Apple had another breakthrough that few people noticed. According to journalists, the fifth generation PowerPC is used only for two computers from this company. There were three of them, we’ll talk about the one that “didn’t count”…

Xserve G5: the “Pupae butterflies”

No users domesticated computers, no expert on “real” servers they were not interested, but the Xserve was a few applications in which they were the best, such as non-linear video editing (an area in which Steve though he was not a specialist, but very well versed), heavy computing tasks (PowerPC 970 was the best to work with floating point numbers), the most easy to manage a clustered supercomputers and something else – that is, a fairly narrow scope.

For which these products as well suited as not fit for everyone else. Equally unpleasant to read what you wrote about Xserve as Apple fans (we are the best and all the tear!), and haters (it sucks!). Especially impressed me the approval that except stupid Apple, these processors are not worthless no one uses. Although a few months after the PowerMac G5 IBM used them in a BladeCenter JS20, and this was only the beginning of their glorious career.

Xserve and Xserve RAID is ideally suited for a particular application and at a time when they were produced. The strongest argument in their favor was the server version of Mac OS X facilitates the management systems of any complexity.

A proprietary feature of Apple. I argued a variety of people that software for professionals simplicity of management and ease of development is excessive. But I believe that ill-conceived intricate interfaces provoke errors, they can justify anything… the Main reason for the disaster at three mile island (nuclear power station in the US) were not a problem in the reactor if the staff acted correctly, disaster could have been prevented, but half-assed control system interface, vivalasalsa unimaginable amounts of information on operators already experiencing stress, have made it impossible. The lessons of this disaster into account.

On 6 January 2004, the audience was presented the first Xserve G5. The code name of this model – Chrysallis. The pupa of a butterfly. Promising – but after several years it became apparent that to seriously invest in this direction Apple has a change of heart. That’s the reason for her backwardness in this area – and not “the absolute inability of Apple to create a decent server”.

While the Xserve was important enough for Apple to become the main theme of MacWorld Expo in January 2004, overshadowed the iPod and the iTunes Music Store…

A new supercomputer from Apple

To use the term “supercomputer” for a single Xserve, to be pedantically accurate, and honest, incorrect. Information about what the export PowerMac G3 “Cube” in an unfriendly country was limited was an invention of the advertising Agency. A small poetic. Only it does not change anything: the new Xserve was super.

In all three variants of the model Xserve G5 ID RackMac3,1 used new modification of the fifth generation PowerPC, the PowerPC 970fx, with lower power consumption and heat generation than the native PowerPC 970, izgotovleniya on 90 nm technology, to strengthen the hopes of those that were waiting for PowerBook G5… Not true: he still consumes too much energy, to acceptable performance remained slightly, but…

The processor was overclocked to 2 GHz front system bus – up to half of this frequency (1 GHz). In the basic configuration, from January 2004 to January 2005, included 512 MB of RAM PC3200 EEC SDRAM. EEC is Extended Error Correction, a technology allowing to detect errors when reading RAM, and even eliminate them, and in fatal cases to report. RAM with EEC does not apply to computers regular assignments: it is slower and more expensive. Xserve is a server computer, though not high class.

The second level cache of 512 K.

RAM expandable to 8 Gigabytes (8 memory banks).

Form factor – 1U. U – the standard height of the rack mountable, 1.75 in. From Xserve thickness of 1.73 inches or 4.4 cm Width is also determined by the size 19-inch rack: 17,6 inches, or 44,7 cm (1.4 inches needed for installation). Depth – 71,1 cm Weight easy this “razor” is 15.1 kg.

To embed hard drives (SATA 1.5 Gigabit/s) – from 1 to 3 compartments (depending on variant), a basic set of options comes with a drive capacity of 80 GB (7 200 rpm).

2 GB (10/100/1000Base-T) Ethernet port 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 FW 400 port and 2 port FW-800.

2 expansion slots, PCI-X.

Neither AirPort nor Bluetooth were not supported.

Xserve G5: the “Pupae butterflies”

Graphics card no, neither “main” nor “foreign” displays are not supported. But in all scenarios, except the “cluster node”, sets the optical disc drive.

Until September 2004 all versions were supplied with a server Mac OS 10.3 “Panther” after – server with Mac OS 10.4 “Tiger. Official designation – Mac OS Server 10.3 and Mac OS 10.4 Server. At the whim of the employer, I used them as the main working system (which is no need no, except for a single case, about which no one did not know in advance). The role of the main system server options are not inferior to normal. From usual they differ only in two or three settings and a lot of additional software, including those costing much more expensive than the version of Mac OS X Server.

Options for the dolls

The options were three. It’s funny: among the distinguishing features were optical drive type… As the models PowerBook over seven years to the Xserve.

The first option, the Xserve G5/2.0 is SP. One PPC 970fx with a clock frequency of 2 GHz, the basic kit 24x speed CD-ROM slot load. In the online store it can be replaced by 8x Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW), September Combo included in the basic package.

3 compartments for hard disk drives with a height of 3.5 inches (8.89 cm).

Geekbench 2 (32) this option was scored 1 217 points in Geekbench 2 (64) – 1 351.

Cost 2 999 USD.

The second option, the Xserve G5/2.0 is DP dual processor, was completely identical to the first except the number of processors.

Geekbench 2 (32) this option was scored 1 620 points in Geekbench 2 (64) – 1 943.

Cost 3 $ 999.

Third – Xserve G5/a 2.0 DP (Cluster node), Xserve modification intended for the role of a cluster node. Two CPUs. The performance version of the same “second option” in Geekbench 2 (32) – 1 620 points in Geekbench 2 (64) – 1 943.

To reduce the price of the cluster node has ruled out “all excess” optical drive and two of the three bays for hard drives.

These exceptions are clearly not drawn for $ 1,000, but the option cost 2 999 USD.

The cluster can be collected

Xserve RAID

Xserve G5: the “Pupae butterflies”

Simultaneously with Xserve G5, Apple introduced a new (second) model Xserve RAID.

This specialized peripherals for the Xserve (and not only – CD with software for Xserve RAID was not only utility for Mac OS X Server, but and server versions of Windows and LInux).

14 UltraATA/100 drives, 180 GB (in this model), hot-swappable. Apple’s customers the ability to change discs without turning off the computer liking, they now demanded the same opportunity for the discs in the compartments PowerMac… Instead it would be better to add to the PowerMac case design electronic lock that blocks the opening of the “hood” working of a computer… But neither the first nor the second, Apple did not.

Hardware Xserve RAID supported RAID levels 0, 0+1, 1, 3, and 5, software 10 and 50.

In XserveRAID had two independent RAID controller (with support up to 7 disks), fiber optic data transmission channel (SFP, so the second model was called Xserve RAID Xserve RAID (SFP), 10/100Base-T Ethernet.

Form factor 3U.

Few years Xserve RAID became the first victim of the elimination of server direction.

To be continued

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