Volume 5, Number 1 -- January 10, 2008

Apple Goes Quad Core in Xserves and Mac Pros

Published: January 10, 2008

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Customers using servers and workstations from Apple Computer are finally getting a much-needed performance boost now that the company this week has launched its first machines supporting quad-core Xeon processors from Intel. As the maker of the sexiest Unix machines on the planet, Apple needs to get on the cutting edge of hardware and stay there if it wants to grow its market share for servers and workstations--something that it is perfectly capable of doing now that Apple is the darling of Wall Street and the hip gear in our hip pockets.

The new Xserve and Mac Pro machinery is based on Intel's "Harpertown" Xeon 5400 quad-core processors, which sport the new "Penryn" cores and use a 45 nanometer process technology that allows Intel to crank up core clock speeds to 3 GHz today and higher in the future without overheating the chip. The Harpertown chips used in the Xserve servers run 3 GHz and sport two independent 1.6 GHz front side buses that feed each pair of cores inside the Harpertown chips. Apple customers using Xserves with "Woodcrest" dual-core Xeon 5100 processors will see performance increases in the range of 1.6 to 2.2 moving to the machines based on Harpertowns. (Apple never did ship quad-core "Clovertown" Xeon 5300 chips in its Xserve line, which is a bit perplexing considering that they were on the market for more than a year.) In any event, Xserve customers should see around twice the performance boost for applications that can make use of extra processor cores, and it will allow a server to do more things side-by-side if it cannot, if they move to Xserves using Harpertown chips with similar clock speed.

The Harpertowns are the first of the Penryn family of chips, and is really two dual-core chips that share a single ceramic package with two independent buses reaching back into both pair of cores. (Prior quasi quad-core chips from Intel had both pairs of cores sharing a single bus, which limited performance.) Each pair of Harpertown cores has 6 MB of L2 cache. All Penryn chips include new SSE4 SIMD instructions for boosting multimedia and calculation processing, and they also have larger caches, independent buses, and other tweaks that give them better performance than the predecessor "Clovertown" Xeon 5300 quad-core chips, which have been shipping since November 2006. The Clovertowns and their companion "Kentsfield" quad-core chips have been one of the key reasons behind Intel's resurgence in its battle against Advanced Micro Devices in 2007. AMD's own "Barcelona" quad-core Opteron 8300 series chips came to market late in September 2007 and had a bug in their cache.

The new Xserve machine from Apple comes in a 1U form factor and is a two-socket server like several prior generations of Xserve machines. The new Xserve has eight main memory slots and supports up to 32 GB of main memory; Apple is using 800 MHz DDR2 fully buffered DIMMs. That faster and fatter memory boosts memory bandwidth to 25.6 GB/sec, which is over 64 percent more than the prior Xserve boxes. (That number is based on a STREAM benchmark test Apple ran back in December compared to an Xserve using two dual-core Woodcrest chips.) The Xserve boxes also have two PCI Express slots--one x8 slot and one x16 slot--with up to 8 GB/sec of I/O bandwidth, which is four times that of the prior Xserve. If customers need to support PCI-X peripherals, they can convert one of the PCI-Express slots to PCI-X using an adapter. The Xserve can have up to SAS or SATA disk drives and has an optional RAID daughter card that provides RAID 1 mirroring for two disks or RAID 5 data protection across three disks in the system; this raid card has 256 MB of write cache memory and a 72-hour battery backup for data in the cache. Apple sells 7200 RPM SATA disks with 80 GB or 1 TB capacities or 15K RPM SAS disks with 73 GB or 300 GB capacities in the machine. The box has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and it also has a single 750 watt power supply and can have another one slapped into the box for redundancy. The server comes with a license to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server installed with an unlimited client license.

Apple is selling configurations of this new machine with a single 2.8 GHz Harpertown chip, two 2.8 GHz Harpertowns, or two 3.0 GHz Harpertowns. A base machine with a single Harpertown processor, 2 GB of main memory, an 80 GB disk, and Leopard Server costs $2,999. A heavy configuration with eight Xeon cores running at 3 GHz, 32 GB of main memory, three 73 GB SAS drives, the optional RAID card, and the redundant power supply costs a whopping $15,399.

The new Mac Pro tower workstation is also based on Harpertown chips, but Apple is choosing faster 3.2 GHz versions for the top-end configuration. As was the case with the Xserve machines, the Mac Pro workstations have been limited to dual-core Woodcrest processors on their two-socket motherboards, so customers moving to the new Mac Pro eight-core box should see about twice the oomph if they have applications that are thread friendly. The new Mac Pro comes with an AMD ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card with 256 MB of memory, but customers can choose a GeForce 8800 GT card with 512 MB of memory or Quadro FX 5600 card with 1.5 GB of memory from nVidia to get screaming graphics performance. The machine can also gang up four of the ATI cards to drive up to eight 30-inch screens with a single image. That is one heck of a desktop.

A base Mac Pro using the Harpertown processors comes with two 2.8 GHz cores, 2 GB of main memory, the base ATI graphics card, and a 320 GB SATA disk spinning at 7200 RPM. It costs $2,799. Using two top-speed 3.2 GHz Harpertowns, boosting memory to 16 GB, adding the RAID 5 card, putting in four 500 GB disks, and the top-end Quadro FX 5600 card drives the price of the Mac Pro to $12,399. Using four ATI graphics cards on this hefty configuration drops the price to $9,999.

While the new Xserve iron is certainly welcome, Apple still has work to do. As I explained last year, Apple should have very skinny single-socket, quad-core servers in a 1U chassis with lots of SAS disk storage. The new machine sort of fulfills this. But Apple also needs a 2U server with four quad-core "Tigerton" Xeon 7300 processors for handling very large workloads. And 3U variant of this Xserve should have a built in storage area network. Moreover, Apple still needs to have two-socket and four-socket blade servers, and if it can't build them, then it should just license blade chasses and blades from Intel and get the job done.

In a separate announcement, Apple announced this week that Andrea Jung, chairman and chief executive officer at makeup and beauty products manufacturer Avon Products, has been elected to the board of directors for Apple. Jung is already on the boards of General Electric and Catalyst and is a member of the board of trustees at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Jung rose up through the ranks at Avon, which had just under $9 billion in sales last year, through the marketing side of the company, eventually becoming president of global marketing in 1996, an executive vice president in 1997, president in 1998, chief operating officer from 1998 through 1999, chief executive in 1999 and chairman of the board in 2001. Jung is the eighth member of the Apple board, which includes Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and CEO; Bill Campbell, chairman and former CEO of Intuit; Millard Drexler, chairman and CEO of J. Crew; Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and Nobel Prize winner; Arthur Levinson, chairman and CEO of Genentech; Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google; and Jerry York, president, CEO, and chairman of Harwinton Capital.


Apple's Leopard Mac OS X Server Coming October 26

Intel Announces First "Penryn" Xeon Processors

IDF Server Wrap Up: Intel to Keep the Pressure on AMD

Intel Details Future 45 Nanometer Chip Plans from Beijing

Intel Shows Off Future Penryn and Nehalem Chip Designs

Can Apple Finally Break Into the Big Time with Core Xserves?

Apple: Unix for People, Unix for the Masses

Apple Launches G5 Server, RAID Storage

Two Crazy iSeries Ideas for 2004

                     Post this story to del.icio.us
               Post this story to Digg
    Post this story to Slashdot

Sponsored By

AIX Disaster Recovery and Data Replication
Have Never Been
So Fast, Easy - and Affordable.

Learn how to upgrade to Power6 the easy way.

Implement a comprehensive AIX Disaster Recovery and Data Replication Plan
with minimum investment and maintenance.

Ensure Business Continuity for your customers, partners and employees.

Visit VISION SOLUTIONS at www.dr4AIX.com

Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
Contact the Editors: To contact anyone on the IT Jungle Team
Go to our contacts page and send us a message.

Sponsored Links

COMMON:  Join us at the annual 2008 conference, March 30 - April 3, in Nashville, Tennessee
Vision Solutions:  Disaster Recovery Protection for AIX. Fast. Easy. Affordable. Catch the Webcast!
NowWhatJobs.net:  NowWhatJobs.net is the resource for job transitions after age 40


IT Jungle Store Top Book Picks

Getting Started with PHP for i5/OS: List Price, $59.95
The System i RPG & RPG IV Tutorial and Lab Exercises: List Price, $59.95
The System i Pocket RPG & RPG IV Guide: List Price, $69.95
The iSeries Pocket Database Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket Developers' Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket SQL Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket Query Guide: List Price, $49.00
The iSeries Pocket WebFacing Primer: List Price, $39.00
Migrating to WebSphere Express for iSeries: List Price, $49.00
iSeries Express Web Implementer's Guide: List Price, $59.00
Getting Started with WebSphere Development Studio for iSeries: List Price, $79.95
Getting Started With WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries: List Price, $89.00
Getting Started with WebSphere Express for iSeries: List Price, $49.00
WebFacing Application Design and Development Guide: List Price, $55.00
Can the AS/400 Survive IBM?: List Price, $49.00
The All-Everything Machine: List Price, $29.95
Chip Wars: List Price, $29.95

The Four Hundred
A New Year, A New IBM Systems and Technology Group

Rocket Software Buys NetManage for $69 Million

Servers Get Their First Power and Performance Benchmark

Mad Dog 21/21: Motherboarding

IDC 2008: It's Post Disruption, the Aftermath of Webification

The Linux Beacon
Red Hat Taps New CEO As It Reports Solid Third Quarter

Supermicro Preps for Quad-Socket Blade Push

IDC 2008: It's Post Disruption, the Aftermath of Webification

Servers Get Their First Power and Performance Benchmark

A New Year, A New IBM Systems and Technology Group

Four Hundred Stuff
Vision Seeks to Simplify HA Options with 'Hybrid' Solutions

PowerTech i5/OS Security Conference Open to All

CCSS Adds System i Battery Monitoring to QSystem Monitor

Quadrant's Formtastic Keeps Closer Watch on Print Jobs

Help/Systems Buys International Distributor

Big Iron
Sine Nomine Shows Off Solaris on System z

Top Mainframe Stories From Around the Web

Chats, Webinars, Seminars, Shows, and Other Happenings

Four Hundred Guru
Scrubbing Your Web Data with Elbow Grease and AJAX

Odds and Ends

Admin Alert: Making Educated Guesses on CPU Utilization

System i PTF Guide
January 5, 2008: Volume 10, Number 1

December 29, 2007: Volume 9, Number 52

December 22, 2007: Volume 9, Number 51

December 15, 2007: Volume 9, Number 50

December 8, 2007: Volume 9, Number 49

December 1, 2007: Volume 9, Number 48

The Windows Observer
Remembering Microsoft's 2007, and Looking Forward to 2008

Gates Predicts Computing Advances in Final CES Keynote

Servers Get Their First Power and Performance Benchmark

Worm Threat High with Security Holes Patched by Microsoft

Microsoft Offers $1.2 Billion for Enterprise Search Company

Four Hundred Monitor
Four Hundred Monitor's
Full iSeries Events Calendar


Vision Solutions
Canvas Systems
Roaring Penguin
Vibrant Technologies

Printer Friendly Version

Apple Goes Quad Core in Xserves and Mac Pros

A New Year, A New IBM Systems and Technology Group

Servers Get Their First Power and Performance Benchmark

Mad Dog 21/21: Motherboarding

IDC 2008: It's Post Disruption, the Aftermath of Webification

But Wait, There's More:

Nasdaq Kicks SCO Out, Gupta Leaves the Company . . . Which Geographies Use the Most Juice for Servers? . . . X64 Workstations Basically Kill RISC/Unix Alternatives . . . Supermicro Preps for Quad-Socket Blade Push . . . Chip Makers Gang Up for Advanced Processes . . .

The Unix Guardian


Subscription Information:
You can unsubscribe, change your email address, or sign up for any of IT Jungle's free e-newsletters through our Web site at http://www.itjungle.com/sub/subscribe.html.

Copyright © 1996-2008 Guild Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Guild Companies, Inc., 50 Park Terrace East, Suite 8F, New York, NY 10034

Privacy Statement