Last week Apple introduced three new flavors of Macintosh, the Apple Workgroup Servers 60, 80, and 95. They closely resemble their cousins, the existing Centris 610, Quadra 800, and Quadra 950, much as the Performa 200, 400, and 600 closely resemble the Classic II, LC II, and IIvx.
Old Macs telling a new story -- The Apple Workgroup Servers (AWS) 60 and 80 represent the low- and medium-end of what you can buy. The AWS 60 comes standard with onboard Ethernet, unlike its Centris 610 cousin, which offers onboard Ethernet only optionally. Both the AWS 60 and 80 ship standard with large hard drive configurations and a faster version of AppleShare, AppleShare 4.0, which only works on 68040 Macs. AppleShare will come pre-installed, hopefully making life easier for busy network administrators. Apple plans to ship these configurations in July, and since the hardware should be ready, the delay probably comes from finishing up AppleShare 4.0.
Hardware in a hurry -- The AWS 95 offers more interesting changes than the others. It resembles the Quadra 950 but includes a built-in PDS accelerator card that speeds operations with a 128K or 256K static RAM (SRAM) cache and two SCSI direct memory access (DMA) ports. Other uncommon hardware includes parity RAM, which ensures that memory reads and writes are completely accurate. This doesn't much matter except in utterly critical tasks, but I gather that certain U.S. government contracts require this level of computing safety.
Software on the AWS 95 supports the speed offered by the hardware. Network administrators buying an AWS 95 need a rudimentary knowledge of A/UX, because this machine ships with AppleShare Pro running under A/UX, which allows the hardware to work to spec and provides multi-threading and multi-tasking, making it possible for a crowd of people to simultaneously read and write from the server. The AWS 95 also ships with a four-user pack (for the server and three clients, and you can buy more user packs from Dantz) of Retrospect Remote 2.0 A/UX. Dantz's new release can backup both Unix and Macintosh file formats. The machine comes with A/UX and AppleShare Pro pre-installed and should ship shortly.
The AWS 95 will provide a true SCSI challenge for those interested. In addition to the two SCSI DMA ports, the computer sports two regular SCSI ports. At seven devices per port, you could theoretically attach 28 devices [In your dreams! -Adam]. Various magazines suggest that 20 to 25 devices will be more realistic, with a combination of internal and external devices. Perhaps a hardware company could sponsor an annual contest where SCSI configuration experts could gather and compete to see how many devices they could successfully attach to an AWS 95 with bonus points going to the person with the longest SCSI chain length.
Software -- Aside from Retrospect Remote 2.0 A/UX, other software for the new servers will include a special version of the Oracle7 database from Oracle, a version of 4D Server from ACIUS, and possibly some deals with Sybase and Informix, companies that are big in the large-scale database market. Later this year, Apple will also release AppleSearch, a full text search application, complete with relevance ordering and XTND capabilities.
Overall -- The AWS 60 and 80 will only succeed if Apple can separate them sufficiently from the Centris 610 or Quadra 800 in terms of features and pricing. Otherwise people will simply purchase a comparable Centris or Quadra and configure it with network software and third-party hard drives. Without competitive pricing, these Macs will only sell to people who wish to blithely purchase a Macintosh server, without taking the time to do more research than scan a colorful Apple brochure. Since pricing will range from $3000 for the cheapest AWS 60 to $13,000 for the snazziest AWS 95 (upgrades from the Quadra 900 and 950 will be available), cost will be a major issue.
The AWS 95 is the most interesting of the lot, and you would be hard pressed to match its functionality. Also, Dantz doesn't currently plan to market Retrospect Remote A/UX 2.0 separately. For those who need the fastest server possible now, the AWS 95 should fit the bill. For those who can wait, Cyclones and PowerPCs may soon provide even more alluring speeds.
Dantz Development -- 510/849-0293 -- 510/849-1708 (fax)
Apple and Dantz propaganda
MacWEEK -- 08-Mar-93, Vol 7, #10, pg. 1
MacWEEK -- 22-Mar-93, Vol. 7, #12, pg. 1
Macworld -- May-93, pg. 64