Apple’s new Mac Pro may find work as successor to Xserve

“Apple’s new Mac Pro has high-end workstation users drooling, but others are eying the diminutive powerhouse as the successor to the old Xserve Mac server,” John Rizzo reports for MacWindows. “And Apple appears to have given an oblique blessing to at least one company who has figured out how to rack-mount the 10-inch Mac Pro cylinders. But how well suited is the Mac Pro to function a server?”

“The new Mac Pro offers a processor used in servers by Dell and other server makers, doesn’t generate a lot of heat, and sits in a diminutive 10-inch by 6-inch cylinder. You could fit 9 new Mac Pros in the space taken up by 3 Xserves, roughly one-third of the space. But how would you store them in a rack?” Rizzo reports. “A Mac mini hosting company, MacStadium, has come up with a solution. Their rack holds 270 Mac Pros in 12 square feet of floor space — more server power than could typically be housed in the same space with conventional server hardware. So far, MacStadium is only offering to host or collocate Mac Pros at its facilities, and hasn’t yet made the rack available.”

“The rack will mount the Mac Pro cylinders are their side and cool them with a horizontal flow of air. This is at odds with the way Apple has demonstrated the Mac Pro’s design, which has a central shaft through which air rises to cool the cylinder, with heat escaping at the top,” Rizzo reports. “Last week, Apple seemed to settle this question by quietly posted a tech support document called “Using the Mac Pro (Late 2013) on its side” that blesses to MacStadiums’ Mac Pro rack-mounting strategy…”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]


  1. The Mac Pro is not a direct replacement for the Xserve, it’s a workstation. Apple would need to offer a different configuration to be a competitively- priced server.

    As the article states:

    “The Mac Pro is certain not a machine that’s designed to be a server. Aside from the shape, the starting $3,000 configuration comes with two graphics cards that are completely unnecessary in a rack-mounted server, as is the ability to run three monitors.”

    1. Agreed. A server offers some hardware redundancy that the macpro does not have.

      Although the raw power seems to be enough. It used to be that we were doing just fine with 24 100MHz HP servers with 20MB XMS memory and 200MB SCSI disks running our ERP.

      Now we are at GB and GHz. Spoiled.

      So, if Apple build a Pro that was slightly taller offering redundant power supply and redundant cooling fans we just might be getting somewhere.

    2. Not quite, because servers can be of different types.

      Blade servers are mostly file/data/storage servers, and Mac Pro can be intensive calculations application server. In such case, both CPU and GPUs are highly useful.

  2. If oracle, informix and SQL can take advantage of openCL, this could be a powerhouse. But if not, that will be a lot of GPU power wasted.
    Even that, MacPro still cheaper and more powerful than most servers out there.

    1. This is called an SDK. Doesn’t mean the actual programs utilize it. I know your are probably visualizing a presentation where Apple demonstrated OSX multi core processing libraries. This is different…

      Read up on OpenCL. This is the library that a software vender must (should) use to take advantage of the GPU for calculations that can be done off CPU.

  3. Apple just got back to me and says the GPU power can be used for Server tasks using special software in Mac OSX Server…..they are also working on an option to provide depopulated graphics card versions to those ordering in amounts divisible by 50.


  4. This is a joke right? The trashcan as a rack-mount server?

    A dual-GPU server?

    A server with only Gigabit Ethernet?

    Intel and AMD developed 10 billion transistor integrated circuits… Apple developed a three-sided heatsink and an extruded aluminum cover! Designed in California, the land of fruits and nuts.

    You have to have really drunk the Apple Kool-aid to believe this thing is a viable server.

      1. Definitely and obviously not in its current form. I see no reason why the components can’t be reconfigured and optimized for a server friendly configuration. They’re also made in the USA, Apple could make this happen with local engineering. You never know!

  5. When SJ introduced the completed Server farm he showed what kind of machines were in the inside. They looked some sort of HP server of some sort. What I would like to see is a replacement of all that equipment with Apples own equipment. Come on Apple, just DO it.

  6. Apple’s Server Software has taken a nosedive in recent years…. it’ll run on a Mac Mini just as well…

    If you need as much speed and hardware the MacPro offers, trust me you won’t be running Apple’s server software for that purpose.

  7. This is a somewhat wild idea…but what if someone replaced the two graphics cards with multi-core processor cards that include fast cache and memory slots, perhaps even PCIe storage interface(s). I am not sure if it would be reasonable to use the graphics cards communications buses to link the processor boards together and to the Mac Pro I/O ports. But it is fun to think out of the box…or tube.

  8. What an odd website for the source article: It doesn’t resolve properly on Safari! I had to render it with ye olde OmniWeb in order to save it as a PDF.

    Anyway, fun as it is to figure out how to use the new Mac Pro in an efficiently rack-mounted server farm, that’s clearly not its intended purpose. It’s not an XServe replacement.

      1. I had to run off one of my tracking cookie add-ons to get all of the page to stay put. But even then, the stuff that was supposed to be in a second column to the right of the story got shoved down below the story instead. That’s very basic HTML code being ignored.

        And what’s really odd is that OmniWeb uses and old version of Webkit. Meaning that, theoretically, an older version of Safari would have correctly rendered the page.

        The take away message is that web coding standards are an incredible mess. We’re back to the bad-old-days for ~1997 when Microsoft was destroying web standards by perpetrating their own proprietary calls that only resolved in Internet Explorer. Except these days we never know what browser is going to render what correctly. We’re talking about a bunch of browsers that ALL pass the Acid3 test at 100%.

        IOW I’m all bitchy today about ignored web standards. 🙁

  9. Cute idea, but there’s more to servers than simply power. Like redundant hot-swappable *everything* for one. The new Mac Pro is a helluva computer, but it’s not going to be taking over any data centers (which is just fine).

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