Apple has announced an Intel-powered Xserve, maintaining the 1U chassis design, but delivering Xeon as a processor.

The new servers offers up to 5TB storage and, according to Apple, now offer redundant power supplies for easy replacement when a server is in use. Prices on the new Mac server machines start at $2,999.

Apple's new Xserve is a quad Xeon, 64-bit server featuring Mac OS X Server Tiger on two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors running up to 3.0GHz.

The result? The company promises the new servers offer performance over five times that of its predecessor.

Features include: PCI Express, independent 1.33 GHz front side buses with 4MB of shared L2 cache, and fully buffered DIMMs (FB-DIMMs), the new Xserve delivers up to four times the I/O bandwidth, up to three times the memory bandwidth and twice the storage bandwidth of the Xserve G5.

Apple is offering purchasers "dozens" of build-to-order options, including faster processors, larger hard drives and dual power supplies.

"Xserve has always been the perfect server for Mac workgroups and now it will run over five times faster for the same breakthrough price," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. "With new Intel processors, a redesigned hardware architecture, and an unlimited Tiger Server client access licence, no one can offer better price performance and manageability in a 1U server."

Configurable with two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors running either 2.0, 2.66 or 3.0GHz, the new Xserve supports up to 32GB of 667MHz DDR2 ECC FB-DIMM memory with twice the capacity and three times the bandwidth of the Xserve G5. Two eight-lane PCI Express expansion slots provide up to 2GB/s of throughput each.

The machines support up to three 3Gb/s SATA or SAS drives that can achieve 2.25TB of hot-pluggable storage.

The system's physical architecture has been improved with the addition of rails for rack mounting, a new lights-out management system, and the inclusion of Apple's Server Monitor software and Remote Desktop agent.

The new Xserve can drive up to a 23-inch Cinema Display as well as industry standard VGA devices and offers an ATI Radeon X1300 256MB PCI Express graphics card.

The new Xserves will ship with a preinstalled unlimited client edition of Tiger Server.

The new Xserve is scheduled to be available in October 2006 through the Apple Store and Apple Authorised Resellers.