Apple Unveils Xsan, Updates Pro Software

Expanding its Xserve server and Xserve RAID product family, Apple introduced Xsan, an enterprise-class SAN system priced at less than $1,000. The company also bolstered its menu of professional-video software

April 19, 2004

5 Min Read
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Expanding its Xserve server and Xserve RAID product family, Apple introduced Xsan, an enterprise-class SAN system priced at less than $1,000. The company also bolstered its menu of professional-video software products.

Xsan, announced Sunday at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas, is a 64-bit cluster file system for Mac OS X designed to enable users to consolidate storage resources and provide multiple computers with concurrent file-level read/write access to shared volumes over Fibre Channel. The system's features include metadata controller failover and Fibre Channel multipathing to ensure high availability; file-level locking, which lets multiple systems read and write concurrently to the same volume; bandwidth reservation, which provides smooth ingestion of bandwidth-intensive data streams, such as high-resolution video; and flexible volume management, which enables more efficient use of storage resources, Apple said.

And for the first time on Mac OS X, Xsan allows up to 64 video professionals to simultaneously access a single storage volume that supports multiple high-bandwidth video streams, providing improved workflow in video and film editing, audio editing and effects, and motion-graphics creation, according to Apple.

Set up, administration and monitoring are built into the Xsan Admin tool, which provides volume management, SAN file system configuration and remote monitoring in an integrated application, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said. User quotas and access controls let administrators restrict storage use and file access, providing solid data security. And because Xsan works with ADIC's StorNext File System, it can be used in environments that include Windows, Unix and Linux server platforms. ADIC's StorNext Management Suite data management software also supports Xsan, Apple said.

A beta version of Xsan is available now to qualified customers at Plans call for Xsan to ship this fall for a list price of $999 per system, with the product available through Apple authorized resellers and direct from the Apple online store.Apple said it has qualified Xsan with Xserve G4, Xserve G5, Power Mac G4, Power Mac G5 and Xserve RAID systems and Apple Fibre Channel PCI cards. Xsan requires Mac OS X 10.3 or Mac OS X Server 10.3 software and will support Fibre Channel switches from vendors such as Brocade, QLogic or Emulex.

Apple is targeting Xsan at the professional video, business, government, education and high-performance computing markets--areas where the company already has teamed with channel partners to drive sales of its Xserve rackmount server, Xserve cluster, Xserve RAID storage system and professional software products.

"Apple's pro video and IT customers now have an affordable, high-performance SAN file system on Mac OS X," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, in a statement. "Xsan delivers a powerful end-to-end SAN solution, with less complexity and no hidden charges, at under half the price of alternatives from Avid, IBM and SGI."

Also at NAB, Apple unveiled Motion, a motion graphics application, as well as upgrades to its pro video software lineup, including DVD Studio Pro 3, Final Cut Pro HD and Shake 3.5.

Motion, slated to ship this summer at a price of $299, features interactive animation of text, graphics and video, with instant previewing of multiple filters and particle effects, according to Apple. The product also has a function called Behaviors, which lets users add natural-looking movement to type and graphics without the use of complex key frames, the company said.DVD Studio Pro 3, the latest version of Apple's pro DVD authoring application, adds new features such as Alpha Transitions, enabling users to create stylish DVDs; Graphical View, for easy visualization of a project's entire flow; and Compressor 1.2, the latest version of Apple's digital media encoding and compression tool. The Final Cut Pro HD video editing product now brings the realtime performance of high-quality native DVCPRO HD plus realtime support for DV and SD, allowing users to capture, edit and output broadcast-quality, high-definition video over a single FireWire cable without requiring any additional hardware, which Apple said is an industry first. The Shake 3.5 video effects software, fine-tuned for the Power Mac G5 and Mac OS X Panther, provides new shape-based morphing and warping tools for advanced compositing and new "shape shifting" special effects, Apple said.

Final Cut Pro HD and Shake 3.5 are available now. Final Cut Pro HD costs $999, while Shake 3.5 for Mac OS X with unlimited render licenses costs $2,999. Shake 3.5 for Linux and IRIX costs $4,999, with annual maintenance of $1,499. DVD Studio Pro 3 is scheduled to ship next month for $499.

In addition, Apple and Panasonic at NAB announced what they said is the first implementation of IEEE 1394 FireWire with 100-Mbps DV-HD, the native video compression of Panasonic's DVCPRO HD recording systems. Specifically, the two vendors said they're bringing HD-over-FireWire capabilities to desktop and mobile editing with Panasonic's new AJ-HD1200A, the first HD production video tape recorder to offer a FireWire interface, and Apple's Final Cut Pro HD software, enabling mass adoption of HD-resolution images on Power Mac G5 desktops and PowerBook notebooks.

Panasonic and Apple executives said the move brings high-end capabilities and much lower price points to HD post-production and content distribution.

"With high definition now available on the desktop with Power Mac G5 and the AJ-HD1200A, the investment necessary for HD editing is dramatically reduced," said Stuart English, vice president of marketing for Panasonic Broadcast, in a statement. "For example, the hardware and software needed to equip a full-function HD editing suite with over 100 hours of 24fps HD online storage is less than $50,000," he said."Apple has worked with Panasonic over the past three years to bring FireWire technology to their DVCPRO50 and DVCPRO HD tape decks," said Rob Schoeben, Apple's vice president of applications marketing. "Now we're bringing realtime, native DVCPRO HD editing to Power Macs and PowerBooks at a breakthrough price."

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