RealTime IT News

Apple Searches for a Few Good Clusters

Apple Computer is enticing even more scientists to use its Macintosh server hardware and software for high performance computing (HPC) projects.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company said it will award five fully-provisioned, all-inclusive Apple Workgroup Clusters for Bioinformatics to five scientific researchers in the U.S.

"We'll select the best applications based on the applicant's scientific record, the likelihood that this project will discover something novel using the award, and the likelihood that this research focus would yield methods or discoveries applicable to the broader life science community," Apple said on its Web site.

For the winners, Apple is prepared to hand out a 4-node Apple Workgroup Cluster, including four dual-processor Xserve G5s with 2GB RAM; BioTeam iNquiry, including 200 pre-installed bioinformatics applications; Asante GX5-800 Gigabit Ethernet switch; and three years of service and support. A panel of scientists has been tapped to help Apple review and select the five best applications. The deadline for submission is midnight June 13, 2004.

Apple has had very good success paring its technology with the scientific community, such as its work with Virginia Tech.

The celebrated school has been successful in making the Macintosh part of high-performance computing folklore. Scientists at the university bundled 1,100 dual processor PowerMac G5s (2,200 processors) configured in a cluster and managed to secure the No. 3 spot on the Top 500 list of supercomputers.

Dubbed "System X," the $5.2 million system sits just behind NEC's $300 million Earth Simulator in Japan and the $215 million ASCI Q, an HP-based machine housed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The school has since updated its system and is now running Apple G5 Xserve servers and corresponding software.

Apple has also spent time beefing up its software for the scientific community. The company is now on its second preview of its Xgrid software. Developed by the company's Advanced Computation Group (ACG), the clustering software is intended primarily for scientific research.

The second version includes a command line tool for submitting and monitoring jobs from the command-line, Message Passing Interface (MPI) support, allowing Xgrid to configure and launch executables linked against MacMPI libraries.

The Bioinformatics winners will be announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June. The company is also scheduled to introduce the beta version of its next Mac OS X release, code-named Tiger.