Deep Dish: Prototype ANS 300

Deep Dish - front Deep Dish - closed

Chuck Goolsbee was a beta tester for Apple's Server Group from 1995 to 1997, testing the Apple Network Server 500 and 700. Chuck knew a few people in the Server Group, and as network administrator at Bon Marche and TPD Publishing, he was able to thoroughly test these units, and even had many of them serving files over the internet.

ANS 700

Apple Network Server 700

The Apple Network Servers are high end servers built by Apple that run IBM's AIX variant of UNIX. Pictured above is the Apple Network Server 700, Apple's top-of-the-line server with a 180 MHz PPC 604e processor, two power supplies, 7 removable drive bays and 2 fixed drives. The ANS 500 had a slightly lesser configuration, with a 132 MHz 604e, only one power supply, and 7 removable drive bays. Both have locking wheels on the bottom (handy since the unit weighs about 80 pounds!) and a locking/sliding 3-position trasnslucent door to cover the drive bays. The power supplies are removable via a handle behind the purple removable "grille" in the bottom. These units were specifically designed to be highly serviceable yet very secure.

The ANS 300 had the same architecture as the 500 & 700, but was an easily rack-mounted unit intended for Internet/FTP/Mail/Web serving, departmental and small database servers, etc, and consequently had less expansion. It has two removable drive bays and one fixed drive (behind the LCD). Much of the serviceability & security was abandoned for the sake of size. For instance, there is no obvious way to secure the drive bays, or the motherboard tray from being removed. The power supply is fixed and would be slow to field repair. The fixed hard drive mounted behind the LCD is very hard to reach, etc. The key lock on the front controls only the "on, lock, service" options, unlike the multiple key lock controlling those functions plus doors and security on the full size 500/700 units. These issues ceased to be important, however, as the ANS 300 never shipped.

Deep Dish - racked

Code named Deep Dish, the ANS 300 is essentially an Apple Network Server without the large drive array. As a consequence, the computer is only four rack-units high. The logic board is in the bottom of the unit on a slide-out tray. There are two standard ANS removable trays on the right side of the unit's front. The Deep Dish also has one fixed internal drive, and the floppy drive is fixed, as well. Apple also had plans to produce an external drive array for the machine, which is why there is an ultrawide SCSI port above the PCI slots.

This particular Deep Dish has a single 200 Mhz PPC 604e processor, borrowed from an ANS 700. There was also a twin 180 Mhz SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) board. Chuck got to see the multiprocessor card once while visiting Apple, but never in action.

Deep Dish - 604e cpu

There is an LCD on the front of the chasis; it is used primarily for outputting error messages. The Deep Dish also sports a speaker, reset switch, and key/lock along the front of the unit. The chasis itself looks very much the prototype. It is clearly handbuilt, and has an odd gun-metal finish. The case fits poorly, requires a lot of screws, and is very difficult to completely open and close. Fortunately, the motherboard and most of the drives easily slide out. Had Deep Dish ever shipped, it would have been housed in a case similar to the other Apple Network Servers.

In 1997, during the hard times, Apple started canceling projects, and laid off much of the Server Group. Finally, not long after the NeXT purchase, the entire Server Group was canceled.

While all this was going on, Chuck was transferring to TPD Publishing's office in the United Kingdom and was traveling back and forth between the U.K. and U.S. frequently. Deep Dish was left in the storage room at TPD's office in Seattle. In May, 1997, Chuck left TPD Publishing to co-found Rackhenge Networks (now part of digital.forest. While claiming his properties from TPD's Seattle office, Chuck found his Deep Dish, still in storage. Tragically, the rough-draft manuals, laserprinted and bound somewhere within Apple's publishing group, had been lost.

Chuck tried to contact the beta coordinator, but the emails bounced and phone calls went nowhere. He assumed at some point he would get a call from Apple to return the box just like he had with other betas, but it never happened.

Deep Dish was Applefritter's web server for three years.

The cost of running prototypes...

A few more pictures of Deep Dish:

Deep Dish - drive bays Deep Dish - open Deep Dish - motherboard Deep Dish - motherboard w/out CPU Deep Dish - inside

Here's another rack that's nearby, just to demonstrate what a cool place digital.forest is:

Deep Dish - next marathon mac