In tandem with the announcement of the G5 Xserve, Apple Computer also announced its cross-platform-capable Xserve RAID storage system.

Available as 3U rack storage systems these offer up to 3.5TB of storage, along with performance of up to 210MBps throughput. Apple's set the product's price competitively - Xserve RAID's will set users back approximately US$3 per gigabyte.

With the news Apple has also introduced support for Windows and Linux-based computing environments, industry standard Small Form-factor Pluggable (SFP) connectors and broad industry support from 11 companies including Microsoft Corp., VERITAS, Red Hat Inc., Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and QLogic Corp.

Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Philip Schiller said: "For the first time, customers running Windows and Linux can take advantage of Xserve RAID's incredible price performance and breakthrough technology."

Xserve RAID supports 14 independent ATA/100 drive channels and provides up to 3.5TB of storage capacity, while the dual-independent RAID controllers offer sustained throughput of over 200 MBps - high enough to support uncompressed 10-bit HD video editing using protected RAID level 5.

Apple has also been out and got certification from other software vendors to ensure Xserve RAID can appeal to a wide potential audience - regardless of which OS they favor: for example, the product has qualified under the Microsoft Designed for Windows Logo Program. Apple successfully completed all of the tests necessary for qualification for the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system.

Mike Evans, vice president of channel sales and development at Red Hat, said: "This is the first time we are certifying an Apple product on our Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform. It delivers one of the most aggressively priced storage solutions available on Linux today."

Apple has also ramped up its Java-based management and monitoring utility RAID Admin with new features to make administration even easier. RAID Set Slicing allows administrators to partition RAID sets into smaller segments allowing storage to be distributed on up to 16 servers, and RAID Set Expansion makes adding hard drives a simple task with no downtime required. RAID Admin also features enhanced testing and repair tools and a more intuitive user interface.

The product connects to any Xserve or Power Mac using the dual-channel 2GB Apple Fibre Channel PCI Card. This high-speed storage interface offers dedicated bandwidth with a throughput of up to 210MBps. Available for £399 (US$727) from Apple the cards ships with two high-speed 2.9-meter copper fibre-channel SFP-to-SFP cables and accepts SFP optical transceivers for use with fibre-optic cables.

Apple has worked with leading storage network vendors to certify Xserve RAID is compatible with popular hardware and software used in storage networks. The company also offers a selection of service and support packages for customers.

Pricing and specifications

Xserve RAID is available now in the following configurations:

Xserve RAID (£4,799 including VAT) includes: dual-independent RAID controllers with 128MB cache per controller and support for up to 512MB cache per controller; dual 2GB Fibre Channel SFP ports with 200MBps throughput per channel; four 250GB ATA/100 Apple Drive Modules; 1TB RAID 0 total available storage; and 8MB on-drive cache.

Xserve RAID (£5,999) offers: dual-independent RAID controllers with 128MB cache per controller and support for up to 512MB cache per controller; dual 2GB Fibre Channel SFP ports with 200MBps throughput per channel; seven 250GB ATA/100 Apple Drive Modules; 1.75TB RAID 0 total available storage; and 8MB on-drive cache.

Top-of-the range the £8,799 Xserve RAID also features dual-independent RAID controllers with 128MB cache per controller with support for up to 512MB cache per controller; dual-2GB Fibre Channel SFP ports with 200MBps throughput per channel; fourteen 250GB ATA/100 Apple Drive Modules; 3.5TB RAID 0 total available storage; and 8MB on-drive cache