Mac Mini 2U

So… how long before someone sticks four Mac minis in a 2U rack for a cheap $2k server cluster? (e.g. web, mail, dns, and sftp). Just a dynamite little box for sysadmins. Amy’s jazzed – ordering one for her tonight; she’ll attach it to the Studio Display I’m using now, and I’ll switch to 20″ iMac. Two machines for what a PowerMac would have cost. More KoolAid!

Music: Circle Jerks :: Product of My Environment

15 Replies to “Mac Mini 2U”

  1. One minor nit that goes against using the Mac Mini for server purposes is that it’s only 100 meg ethernet not 1 Gig.

    Minor but probably keeps someone from buying a gazillion for their new compute farm/cluster.

    Though I have to admit I’m still thinking about some of these for a compilation farm with XCode – in spite of the slower ethernet they still have potential, and we don’t run a gig-E network here at the office anyway (and we already distribute builds).

    I’ll have to run some benchmarks and see how my dual 2Gig G5 compares with my 1.25G G4 Powerbook and see where the math falls.

  2. The only thing that bums me out about the Mac Mini is that they require Apple installation of RAM. I haven’t found out whether doing so (or attempting to!) voids the warranty, but I assume it does.

  3. I’ll add that other than the memory issue, I think Mac Mini is brilliant, and the prodigal child of the Cube.

  4. Scott – how lucky you guys are to get some new macs! My dad who had used PCs since 1984 got sick of the dell and all the horror that is windows and switched to a 17′ iMac G5 this xmas. Beautiful machine – I predict love at first sight for you and the iMac. I have no use for a mini, but yet I am frothing for one. Isn’t it sweet to see apple finally getting a head of steam as M$ seems to falter over itself (Quareterly numbers came out tonight and they are the lead story in every financial page – apple has best quarter in its history). With no let up in sight of the constant stream of spam and viruses it seems the mac is the safest (and most comfy) harbor in all of computing. That and the HD and RAW support in the latest iApps really sticks the knife in the heart of the argument that they are just frosting and no cake. But still… how sweet it is!!

  5. Man, this thing is sweet, no ? Must have made the Mini-ITX fans stand up and take notice as well. I suspect that anyone in the market for an ultra-cheapo Dell box could be quite intrigued, given half a chance, as well as the aforementioned Mini-ITX/quiet PC crowd.

    The price is just about where it should be as well. Almost an impulse buy, esp. since you can slap it on a USB-type KVM with your existing Intel-based box and use your existing monitor, etc… and honestly, the 80 GB drive is reasonable, given that Apple is using 2.5″ notebook drives. Want more ? That’s what the USB & Firewire ports are for :) I’m also impressed that they put in a somewhat decent 3D graphics chipset w/dedicated VRAM at this price vs. that cheesy Intel “integrated, shared memory” solution you see in the low-cost Windows world.

  6. I’m also impressed that they put in a somewhat decent 3D graphics chipset w/dedicated VRAM at this price vs. that cheesy Intel “integrated, shared memory” solution you see in the low-cost Windows world.

    With Quartz Extreme requiring 32MB of dedicated video RAM and an ATI Radeon/nVidia GeForce or better, not equipping the Mac Mini with such would have doomed the product, IMO.

  7. Geez, I hope the 2.5″ drive doesn’t make the machine seem to slow… I should have thought of that. Should be OK, but it’s my one bugaboo with notebooks — the slower drives do affect overall performance.

    Lee, Roger 10-4 on all counts. Life is good :)

  8. In the Apple Discussion forums it looks like the drives are 4200 rpm – same as in the laptops. Actually, this thing seems to be like a headless G4 iBook more than anything else :) So if an iBook meets your needs performance-wise, you’re set.

    mnep, yes, not incl a minimum 32 MB graphics chipset for Quartz Extreme support would have been foolish. Still, my comment was to compare it against the charcoal colored cr*p extruded by the big PeeCee makers at the lowest price point ;) Intel “Extreme” graphics indeed…

  9. Off-topic nit-pick:

    I know I’m anal-retentive. I like to think of myself as detail-oriented, but I have to be realistic.

    That having been said, a Mac is a PC. PC stands for “personal computer.” A Mac is a personal computer.

    Now, I know that “PC” has become synonymous with “x86 architecture running a version of Windows.” And that even Apple themselves fall into the trap. “iTunes: Mac or PC.” But that doesn’t make it right. Following the herd and sticking with conventions is the reason most of the world runs Windows. Let’s look at Apple’s “Mac or PC” tagline for iTunes.

    Really “Mac or PC” Apple? So your machines are not personal computers? Oh, I see. What you meant was “x86.” Well, I have an x86 machine sitting right behind me. It runs Fedora Core 3. Will iTunes run on it? No? Oh, I see. What you really meant was “iTunes: Mac or Windows/x86.”

    Before you say, “That’s confusing!” think about the confusion caused for Linux users who might think Apple is giving them iTunes. ;)

    Let’s call the Dells what they are. x86 machines running Windows. And yes, David, I agree. They’re crap. :)

  10. Read some add’l info on the Radeon 9200 graphics chipset in the Mini on Apple’s discussion forums. Seems that, while it will support the next OSX revision (“Tiger”), it won’t support every tricked-out bit of graphical eye-candy that Tiger’s UI can do.

    Since Tiger seems to be on track for 2Q ’05, may be worth waiting for a h/w rev on the Mini once Apple starts selling them with that version of OSX.

    Oh, and mnep ? I agree, and would never deny a fellow geek a good rant ;) So…

    :%s/PeeCee/Windoze Box/

  11. Re: Apple’s capitulation on distinguising Mac and PC — especially ironic because Apple invented and/or popularized the term PC to begin with.

    Kind of like the term “hacker.” Some old-school purists still might use the term hacker to refer to anyone who enjoys messing with computers and code, i.e. without any negative connotation, but you just can’t do that without sowing endless confusion. Almost the entire population, plus the media refer to “hackers” as bad guys. If you use the term neutrally, you just guarantee confusion and lengthy explanations.

    In O’Reilly’s canonical “Practical Unix System Security” they have a page about this debate, and note that have chosen not to use the term at all in the book. Instead, the bad guys are “attackers” etc. So they don’t quite capitulate to the fact that language evolves and words change meaning until the point where there’s use fighting the tide, and instead come up with more descriptive, less ambiguous terms. I’d agree that PC isn’t ambiguous on the surface, but insisting on it is a losing battle. And probably not smart if you’re trying to sell product and don’t want to confuse buyers. But maybe at this point it’s incumbent on Linux users to refer to their machines as “x86 machines” and let the world have its errant way with the term “PC.”

    (And yes, that’s a reversal from my old position — in the BeOS days I fought against “PC” and “Windows” being used interchangeably).

  12. You are always forward thinking on this site, and I often follow your lead. So imagine me trying to follow you when I read this:

    “So… how long before someone sticks two iPod Shuffles in a 2U rack for a cheap $200 server cluster?”

    That’s not what you wrote, but it is what I read. My brain mixed up the products, the count, and the dollars involved. I was both puzzled and excited about you proposing a pocket-size server cluster. Took me about 30 seconds to make the correction. Blame it on parallel product line and brain full o’ apples.

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