The new system, which consists of 14 independent 400GB Ultra ATA drive channels, includes 1GB of RAID controller cache (512MB in each RAID controller) and better throughput, which allows the company to support two streams of uncompressed, 10-bit HD video editing using protected RAID level 5, said Alex Grossman, director of product marketing, server and storage hardware at Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Computer Inc.
Although its a good competitive move, beating the competition probably wasnt Apples main motivation for increasing storage capacity, said Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst at JupiterResearch. Instead, Apple probably increased the storage capacity of the Xserve RAID system to better woo the type of customers the company is targeting—those who create a lot of video and other content that requires large amounts of storage, he said.
"I dont think everyone needs this kind of capacity, but the kind of customer they are targeting does," Wilcox said. "When you create movies, animation and video archive-type content, you need this type of capacity and throughput."
Coupled with the growth in storage capacity is a reduction of price to $2.32 per gigabyte. Previously, the maximum capacity was 3.5 terabytes at just over $3 per gigabyte, Grossman said.
Cost is a significant issue, Wilcox said, particularly in some of the heterogeneous environments that might be experimenting with non-Windows operating systems. "They will be looking for something affordable and interoperable, and Apple has a strong message," he said.
Apples strong message of interoperability also may gain converts for the product.
Although the most obvious users for Xserve RAID are those using Macintosh-based production systems, the fact that the product now supports SuSE Linux is noteworthy, Wilcox said. "Apple recognizes that its computers might be used in an environment where there are other operating systems," he said.
Grossman agreed that compatibility is important. In addition to being compatible with other operating systems such as SuSE Linux, the company also is committed to keeping Xserve compatible with industry-leading switches such as those from Cisco Systems Inc. and Emulex Corp.
Although Grossman wouldnt comment on whats next for Apple, Wilcox said his wish list includes better manageability and metadata-driven search capability, which is particularly useful when dealing with digital content.
In addition to the Xserve RAID announcement, Apple announced a new desktop and notebook computer. The 1.8 GHz single processor Power Mac G5 desktop, priced at $1,499, features 6.4GB per second of fast memory bandwidth and up to 4GB of total main memory. Apple also introduced the iBook G4, a $999 notebook with built-in 54 Mbps 802.11g wireless networking and processors running up to 1.33 GHz.