New Mac OS X Server backs iPhone clients

Apple has revealed further details of the new Mac OS X Server software, adding support for a new file system and collaboration tools designed for businesses looking to use the iPhone as a client device.

The new server OS, code-named Snow Leopard Server, is built on the Unix OS and will be an upgrade to Mac OS X 10.5 Server, code-named Leopard Server.

The server software was announced Monday at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, where Apple also revealed a few details of a new client OS, code-named Snow Leopard.

Although Apple didn’t announce a shipping timeframe for Snow Leopard Server, it did announce that the client version of Snow Leopard would ship “in about a year.” Historically, the server version of OS X has shipped simultaneously with, or shortly after, the release of the client version.

The Snow Leopard Server will improve on existing collaboration tools from the older Leopard server software, allowing tools like wikis and blogs to be designed for viewing on the iPhone, Apple said. The new server OS will include a feature called “My Page,” providing clients a central place to access Web applications.

The new server software also will add support for the ZFS file system, which was originally designed by Sun for use in the Solaris OS. The 128-bit file system will provide capabilities to pool storage, expand volumes and automatically correct errors, according to Apple.

A new Mail Server will include an overhauled engine to better handle connections. Targeted at small businesses, the mail server improvements include better server-side e-mail rules and vacation messages. Snow Leopard Server also will have a new Address Book Server, which is based on open standards and will allow clients to share contacts and calendars.

The Snow Leopard Server’s updated Podcast Producer 2 will have a new workflow editor for users to create and publish podcasts, Apple said. Another new feature on the software is the Podcast Library, through which users can create a podcast store and sell locally stored podcasts through RSS.

Beyond multimedia enhancements, the new server OS is designed to better support processor cores, which lays the groundwork to enable better system performance through future versions of Mac OS X Server software, Apple said.

Multicore systems are driving system performance, and the Snow Leopard Server’s Grand Central technologies help the server software better allocate tasks across multiple cores while saving power, Apple said. Developers can use Grand Central to develop and optimize programs for multicore systems, Apple said.

Developers will also be able to enhance application performance through Snow Leopard’s OpenCL (Open Compute Library) technology, which can redirect data processing from a CPU to a graphics processing unit (GPU). The processing speeds of GPUs are approaching a trillion operations a second and “they’re capable of considerably more than just drawing pictures,” Apple said on its Web site. The technology could be useful for development of genomics and video-encoding applications, Apple said.

The Snow Leopard Server’s new 64-bit kernel technology will allow a server to “theoretically” have up to 16TB of memory, which can boost system performance and allow for more network connections.

Macworld.com staff contributed to this report.

Subscribe to the MacWeek Newsletter

Comments