Feature

Apple Xserve counts on ATA

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Apple, the company that popularized SCSI disks on the desktop, has embraced ATA drives in its new 1U rackmount server.

"The performance gain you get from SCSI is not enough to justify the 50% additional cost," says Alex Grossman, Apple's director of server and storage hardware.

Xserve can be equipped with four hot-plug drives, either 60GB or 120GB, for a maximum of 480GB. Stacked in a 42U rack, Xserve houses almost 20TB of raw capacity, configured as either RAID 0 or 1.

Starting at $2,999, Apple positions Xserve against rackmounted products such as Dell's PowerEdge 1650. While the PowerEdge has a lower entry price, it can only house up to three 73GB SCSI drives, for a maximum of 219GB per server.

Of course, a lot of server administrators object to ATA disk on the grounds that it isn't as reliable as SCSI or Fibre Channel. In Xserve, Apple downplays ATA's shortcomings by placing each drive on its own independent drive channel, "making every drive a master," Grossman says. "The drives are completely isolated from one another - if one fails, it doesn't take the others down with it."

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This was first published in July 2002

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