Apple's server products continue to attract attention from non-traditional Mac markets, with US Federal Computer Weekly (FCW) observing that the US Army's move to use Xserve G5s "could open new doors for the company".

Colsa recently announced plans to deploy 1,566 Xserve G5s for an army supercomputer project intended to model the complex aerothermodynamics of hypersonic flight. This installation is called Multiple Advanced Computers for Hypersonic research, or Mach 5.

Illuminata senior analyst Gordon Haff told FCW: "Apple has decided to get fairly serious with servers. Xserve is a serious product line for Apple. They've bough in people with real server expertise."

Apple's high-end computing move is also boosted by its adoption of a standards-based OS with a Unix base (Mac OS X); its choice of processors, and its provision of powerful development tools and features that make today's Mac easier to integrate within multi-platfom networks.

Colsa executive vice president Anthony DiRenzo chose Apple's systems for the project for another reason – the system's low power consumption: "We put these clusters into production for a user who uses it all day and all night. This thing needs to be up, it needs to be stable, it needs to be online," he said.

Apple director of server and storage hardware Alex Grossman said: "We anticipate a number of large clusters to be built."

Reports from the company's WWDC event last week claim that Mac-based supercomputer clusters are achieving excellent market traction. Apple told delegates at the conference that an impressive 40 per cent of Xserve sales are destined for use in such clusters – particularly in universities.