Apple Inc. introduced the original Xserve in May 2002. Apple classifies the Xserve as "a high-density, 1U rackmount server that was applauded for its value and versatility." The Xserve came with one or two PowerPC G4 processors running at 1.33 GHz. It had up to 4 IDE hard disk drives and an ATI video card. In March 2003 they introduced the Xserve Cluster nodes. These only have one hard drive and no video cards, or optical drives.

In 2004 Apple introduced the Xserve G5 a higher-capacity higher-performance and generally better Xserve. These have one or two PowerPC 970 processors running at 2GHz. But because of ventilation issues it can only have as many as 3 SATA drives, with the original space for the fourth drive converted to air vents.

In January of 2005 Apple speed bumped the Xserve, using 2.3 Ghz dual processors. 1.2 TB of storage was possible with the availability of 400GB drives. PCI-X expansion and dual Gigabit Ethernet were standard.

Powered by the 64-bit PowerPC G5 processor the Xserve G5 is much faster than its predecessor and more suited for High Performance Computing (HPC) applications.

An optional fibre channel PCI card can be used together with the Xserve RAID for mass storage.

The Xserve G5 runs Mac OS X 10.3 Server "Panther Server".

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