Virginia Polytechnic has announced that it is to upgrade its supercomputer to incorporate Apple's new Xserve G5s.

Srinidhi Varadarajan, Virginia Tech's assistant professor of computer science told Reuters: "By moving to the thinner servers, the supercomputer will consume less power and generate less heat. It cuts the system's size down by a factor of three."

The new system will be completed by May. Virginia Tech is said to still be negotiating the price with Apple, though Varadarajan said any additional cost to the school would be "fairly minimal."

It has been suggested that the Tech will trade in the 1,100 G5 towers (currently the third-fastest super-computer in the world) in a one-to-one swap. The machines would then be refurbished and sold by Apple to resellers.

Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller told AP: "The Xserve is better for supercomputing because they were meant to be part of a network, while the G5 was always built for personal computing.

"Xserves have information displays in the front that tell you what's happening with processors, what's happening with network connections at a glance, while a desktop doesn't do any of that."