Apple has upgraded its Xserve 1U rack server-unit, adding dual 1.33GHz power PC processors to the product line. The company has also released its long-awaited Xserve RAID configuration.

The Xserves can support up to 2GB of 333MHz DDR memory, and can contain up to 720GB of hot-pluggable storage. The new model can carry 2MB of dedicated L3 memory per processor and uses a 167MHz system bus.

Xserve hosts two full-length 64-bit, 66MHz PCI slots with up to 533 MB/s throughput. One half-length PCI/AGP slot provides additional PCI expansion or connectivity to a high-performance graphics card. Dual independent Gigabit Ethernet ports and FireWire 800 interfaces furnish connectivity.

Xserves ship with Mac OS X Server, which features a number of admionistration and management tools for administrators. It can also be used with Final Cut Pro to provide a video workstation.

Apple has also released a dual-channel 2GB Apple Fibre Channel PCI card (£399). This offers dedicated bandwidth with a throughput of up to 400MB/s. It ships with two high-speed 2.9 metre copper cables and accepts Small form-factor Pluggable (SFP) copper or optical transceivers for use with fibre-optic cables.

Available in March, two standard Xserve configurations are available:

A single-processor 1.33GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 256MB DDR 333 RAM, 60GB ATA/133 Apple Drive Module, dual Gigabit Ethernet, CD-ROM and Mac OS X Server with unlimited clients for an estimated retail price of £2,399.

A dual-processor 1.33 GHz PowerPC G4, 512MB DDR 333 RAM, 60GB ATA/133 Apple Drive Module, dual Gigabit Ethernet, CD-ROM and Mac OS X Server with unlimited clients for an estimated retail price of £3,199. Prices exclude VAT.

"Just six months after we shipped the first Xserve, we're now offering more power and more storage at an even lower price," said Phil Schiller, Apple?s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

"Xserve is already in use at 100 Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of universities and schools across the US, and we're making it even better based on their feedback," he revealed.

Jean Bozman, research vice president with IDC?s Worldwide Server Group said: "Apple did their homework about thin servers, and they got it right."