Apple announced its new Xserve G5 in January at Macworld Expo San Francisco – but the original ship date has been delayed, Apple has confirmed to Macworld.

The upgraded server product is the first Apple product to exploit IBM's award-winning PowerPC 970FX processor. The latter chip offers the best performance yet of a G5, operating at higher clock speeds at a lower temperature.

Despite the technological advances implemented in the new processor, Apple did have to sacrifice one of the four hot-pluggable drive bays in order to build-in a cooling system to ensure its product doesn't overheat.

Heat sinks

Xserve G5s exploit a copper-heatsink design and eight fans that provide airflow for cooling the system. "The fans are individually managed and monitored by a dedicated fan control processor; if a single fan fails the others speed up to compensate," Apple said.

Xserve G5s also contain an "array of over 30 sensors, including eight dedicated to temperature control, that continually monitor all critical system functions throughout the server," Apple has revealed.

The company has high hopes for Xserve. It offers 60 per cent better performance than the previous generation of G4 Xserves with "over 30 gigaflops of processing power per system" claimed by Apple.

On launch, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller said: "Xserve G5 delivers just what our customers have been asking for. With dual G5 processing power and up to 8GB of memory, Xserve G5 is affordable, easy to manage and easy to cluster. No one can offer better price performance in a 1U rack-mount design."

It's understood that Apple has seen strong pre-orders for its new server, which was originally due to ship last month. However, readers who ordered G5 Xserves have contacted Macworld, claiming the product has not reached them yet.

Apple admits delay

Apple has confirmed the delay. An official statement released to Macworld says: "We've received an incredible amount of customer interest for the new Xserve G5 1U rack-mount server since it was announced at Macworld Expo in January 2004.

"We're working hard to start shipping the new Xserve systems in March 2004, not by the end of February as originally announced."

While Apple has declined to offer specific details about the delay, online Mac rumour sites have suggested the delay may have been caused by cooling difficulties, but this has not yet been confirmed.

These claims could also shed a little light on another widely expected product – a new generation of G5 Power Macs. UK resellers have told Macworld that they are expecting shipments of a new Power Mac configuration that uses IBM's new processor, but there has been no news yet from Apple.

Apple's UK Apple Store currently shows a 5-7 week wait until Xserve G5s (in all configurations) ship.