Xserve XeonApple is now selling its highly touted new Intel-based Xserve servers for shipment in mid-November. Beyond the obvious move from IBM G5 Processors to Intel Core 2 Xeon's, Apple has slew of new features and redesigns will help everyone from small workgroups to large data center managers. Apple claims computational speed increases of over 300% on some applications, which is in no doubt due to its quad-core 64-bit Xeon processing, tripling the bus speed, and new 15,000rpm, 3.5ms seek time Serial-Attached-SCSI (SAS) drive option. Apple has also increased the optional drive sizes to 750GB each, times 3 for a total of 2.25TB of storage. And the system supports up to 32GB of DDR2 ECC RAM. Overall, not a bad showing for 1U of rack space! Each Xserve features dual FireWire 800 ports, one FireWire 400 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and an industry standard DB-9 serial port. Two open eight-lane PCI Express slots provide independent throughput of up to 2GB/s each. A lot of Systems Administrators are waiting for the forthcoming Spring 2007 edition of Mac OSX, called Leopard, which will take full advantage of the 64-bit processors and add a great deal of functionality. Apple, however is selling a maintenance plan for an additional US$ 1000 which covers all upgrades for three years. Starting at US$ 2999 for a dual Xeon 2.0 GHz with 1 GB of RAM, these machines are priced competitively, but recent pricing shifts from Dell and HP have narrowed the gap considerably. The more interesting question is when or if Xserve will run Windows and Linux like its desktop counterparts. If so, watch out boys and girls, Apple might just shift the playing field again, and look fabulous while doing so.