Apple started building datacenter-ready machines back in 2002 with the release of the Xserve G4. The Xserve was designed as a 1U rack-mountable machine running Mac OS X Server. Over their lifespan they offered either 3 or 4 hot-swappable drives, two PCI or PCI Express expansion slots, a CD or DVD drive, slots for 2 – 32 GB memory, and single or dual processors with up to 8 total cores. They were datacenter, with Apple design thrown in.
The Xserve survived both the G5 and Intel Transition, eventually coming to an end with the 2009 model. I’ve long wanted to add them to my collection but they are expensive to ship due to their size and weight. After noticing that prices had settled to around $200 (including shipping) over the past couple years, I decided to buy one.
I ended up with an early 2008 model with 8 cores, three 80 GB hard drives, 8 GB RAM, a hardware RAID card, and an extra hot-swappable power supply. That’s actually a really good find as I’ve often seen the 2002 Xserve G4 for the same price with fewer drives. It’s huge, it’s loud, and it boots. I’ve included a video of my initial impressions below.