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Apple Updates Enterprise Hardware

Apple Computer revised part of its enterprise hardware lineup with enhancements to its PowerMac, Xserve RAID and iBook products.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm is hoping lower prices, increased performance and a certified compatible infrastructure will yield sales comparable to those of its own iPod. The popular music player sold just over 2 million units in the last quarter.

For the workstation set, Apple has added a 1.8 GHz single processor Power Mac G5 desktop to its lineup. Priced at just $1,499, the entry-level model rounds out Apple's existing family of dual-processor G5 computers. Like its larger brothers, the newest model comes standard with a SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW), advanced front-side bus and a Serial ATA hard drive.

After the project is finished, Apple is hoping you'll need a place to store it. The company updated its Xserve RAID storage system to include a new 3U high rack storage system that maxes out at 5.6 terabytes of storage capacity. The lineup now ranges from $5,999 for 1TB all the way to $12,999 for the 5.6TB. Apple claims the price averages to just more than $2 per gigabyte for the high-end system, especially.

The Xserve RAID can connect to any Xserve server or Power Mac using a new dual-channel 2GB Apple Fibre Channel PCI-X card. The $499 device has dedicated bandwidth and a throughput of up to 400MBps.

Apple said it has also expanded support for heterogeneous environments with certification from Cisco and SUSE Linux to work with its Xsan Storage Area Network clustering file system software. The Xserve RAID is currently compatible with Microsoft 2000, XP and Server 2003 products, as well as Linux distributions from Red Hat and Yellow Dog.

"We're not leaving anyone out, but we are always taking customers' requests on which systems to include," Alex Grossman, director of hardware storage at Apple, told internetnews.com. "We are trying to get all the major ones in there but it takes some time. Adding in Cisco and SUSE helps round out our storage capabilities."

Grossman also said that Apple worked very hard to make sure its backend enterprise hardware works in any type of networking environment. The company said it has just been certified for Cisco's NDS 9000 family of director and fiber switches. The Macintosh maker is already fully qualified for all Brocade, Emulex, and Qlogic systems, as well as for Veritas software, even in non-Mac environments.

The improvements are so good that Chris Hanson, director of Web Technologies at Seitel, said the company is sold.

"We're planning to add 30 terabytes of the updated Xserve RAID storage over the next six months, bringing our total capacity to 100 terabytes."

Seitel is a provider of seismic data to the oil and gas industry.

And for taking that presentation or data on the go, Apple dropped the price on its iBook family and added built-in AirPort Extreme 54 Mbps 802.11g wireless support. Units start at $999 and run up to a 1.33 GHz PowerPC G4 processors. The notebooks have up to six hours of battery life and a full complement of I/O ports, including FireWire 400, USB 2.0, a built-in 56K v.92 modem and Ethernet (10/100BASE-T), which can connect to speakers, MIDI keyboards and iPods.