While Apple Computer Inc’s new iPod Mini might have stolen the headlines from Macworld Expo this year, the company also used the event to preview its attack on the market for computational cluster grids.
Perhaps better known these days for its portable MP3 player and associated iTunes software, Cupertino, California-based Apple is also in the server business thanks to its Xserve rack-mount server, which was launched in May 2002.
With the beta release of its Xgrid software, Apple is now providing a way for organizations to cluster a large number of its server and desktop machines together to create a pool of processing resources suitable for solving complex computational problems.
The software is designed to work with Apple’s existing Mac desktops and portables, as well as Xserve, and the Apple Rendezvous networking technology. Apple’s Advanced Computation Group has developed it.
With Xgrid deployed on Apple’s new Xserve G5 server in a 42U rack, up to 84 PowerPC processors can be clustered together, according to Apple, creating a pool of 1.5 teraflops of processing power. The Xgrid Console is used to manage the available resources as well as execute Unix commands, run shell scripts, and deploy applications across the cluster.
Available for download now, the beta release of Xgrid also features built-in support for the Blast gene-sequencing application, as well as a software development kit for porting custom applications to Xgrid.
The product has been tested on a number of compute-intensive applications, including Nasa Langley Research Center’s Fortran-based Jet3D jet noise prediction code, which was run across a cluster of Power Mac G5, G4 and Xserve G4 systems with performance of about 32 gigaflops.
This article is based on material originally produced by ComputerWire.