My Turn

Wanted: A Rack Mount Mac

Jason Laffin - 2002.03.15

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

Even before the Cube was released, people were looking for an aesthetically pleasing way to make a computer part of their living room/home theater. But the cases, even the Cube, look out of place. Everyone wants a black case that looks like their receiver.

Working in a lab that does bio-informatic research (using computers to sequence the human genome), Macs have never been a viable option because they supposedly lack horsepower. With Apple's new BLAST program, it's a lot faster than on a Pentium 4.

Imagine, however, if instead of having two processors do the calculation, how fast would it be with 16 processors? This would be possible through clustering technology, which is available for Macs. But the problem with Apple's pretty cases is that they take up a lot of space and can't easily be put into a rack. (Terra Soft makes brackets for G3 B&W and G4 Towers.) Terra Soft came up with a small G4 case called a briQ that can be put into their proprietary rack.

What do these two problems have in common? How about killing two birds with one stone? Create a rack mounted case that can also be a computer control for your home theater. Apple has a lot of experience creating pleasing looking cases; all they would need to do is have two small holes on each side in case someone wanted to mount it in a server rack or on their wall rack mounted home theater system (brackets must be included). To hit each user segment, have three models.

Home User 

Power User 

Server/Lab 

G4 at

800 MHz

933 MHz

Dual 1 GHz

RAM

512 MB

1 GB

2 GB

Media Drive 

Combo

SuperDrive

SuperDrive

These would also include onboard 100/1000 ethernet, a 4x AGP slot with an Nvidia card (possibly using a riser card). For home users it would have component, composite, and S-video out as well as Digital Comp.

The rack-mount Mac would have two PCI slots (probably on a riser card), and for home users it would include a premium sound card with optical and RCA audio out.

The new model would have two USB ports on the front and two on the rear, a FireWire port up front and two in the back, and IR on the front for a wireless keyboard or remote control.

Of course it would support an AirPort card, and it should be capable of working as an AirPort Base Station.

If Apple is serious about being a digital hub, they need to make computers that look like regular home electronics. Could you imagine having the family over during the holidays, plugging your digital camera into the front USB port, and looking at all your pictures on a regular TV? Plus, with the AirPort card, it can become the center of the digital wireless network as well.

Also, if Apple wants to be a serious competitor in the server market, they need to add a rack mounted case to their product line.

The market is waiting.

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