updated 07:50 am EDT, Fri November 5, 2010
Xserve gone Jan 31 in push to Mac Pro, Mac mini
Apple today sent notice that it was phasing out the Xserve. The rackmount server will be discontinued as of January 31, 2011, and the currently available 160GB, 1TB and 2TB Apple Drive Modules will ship through the end of 2011 or until stock runs out. The company plans to honor AppleCare warranties and will have repair parts for up to seven years in California and five years in the rest of the world.
The servers will still have "useful service" after the transition, Apple promised.
Apple didn't give a reason for the decision to drop the Xserve, but it suggested that the Mac mini and Mac Pro were viable alternatives for most customers. The smaller of the two desktops was much more energy efficient and was thin and small enough that two of them could fit into the same 1U rackmount as an Xserve with a mounting kit, Apple said. It was also more more efficient for groups with 50 or fewer people or that only need one service pushed to a larger number.
The Mac mini is now Apple's "most popular server platform by far," according to the company.
Mac Pro systems were still an option for those who needed raw power and were overall faster, with more room for storage and expansion.
At the same time, Apple acknowledged that both of the alternatives left in February might not meet the needs of some server operators. Neither supports lights-out management for remote control when powered down, and the two lack redundant power supplies. Platform-specific problems also exist, such as the single Ethernet and less accessible internal storage of the Mac mini as well as the larger size and power consumption of the Mac Pro.
The switch away from the Xserve could create problems for businesses that have come to depend on the servers for their work. Apple originally introduced the Xserve in 2002 with G4 processors as a way of letting smaller companies and compute clusters move to the Mac instead of having to use another platform and then frequently incompatible server software. In moving to the G5, it quickly gained a reputation for supercomputing and was even key to one of the top supercomputers in the world through Virginia Tech's System X cluster.
Apple moved the Xserve to Intel Xeon chips in November 2006 and had mostly been keeping it updated in sync with towers, but in the past year it has been slipping behind. The company has been gradually steering away from trying to provide an entire solution itself and has already phased out the Xserve RAID storage hub.