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MacRumors
Apr 23, 2003, 12:25 AM
utilizer writes:

[someone] told me today that Apple does indeed have plans to perfect it's XServe cluster design and that the xGrid name will be utilized in it, similar to the way in which xRaid is designed. They also added [that] in some way this project was related to the delay in the xRaid project and that the Cluster design available for sale now is a stop-gap measure 'til the big thing happens. One more thing: It'll be heavily similar to Sun's Grid Engine, whatever that is...



szark
Apr 23, 2003, 12:41 AM
Information on Sun's Grid Engine can be found here (http://gridengine.sunsource.net/).

Very cool if it's true...

MrMacMan
Apr 23, 2003, 01:13 AM
Hm... may be good for buisness, but you never know do you?

melchior
Apr 23, 2003, 01:29 AM
i don't know... i have trouble seeing how anyone would choose apple for these kinds of applications....

it seems to me they don't have a chance in hell to make inroads on the corporate and server markets. windows and sun just dominate too heavily.

does anyone have any information (facts) on how the xserve is doing?

that said i think it's very cool that apple is doing this and who knows, with the 970's this might just be a viable business venture after all. i hope apple can get a bit more respect when/if the 970 delivers what we all hope it will.

herr_neumann
Apr 23, 2003, 01:56 AM
Maybe they will not get into the corporate world, but this would be awesome for designers and such. They can have their power mac and then when they are doing major stuff the xGrid pounds it out. Need more power? Add another xserve to the grid....

talk about sweet...:D

Snowy_River
Apr 23, 2003, 02:42 AM
Originally posted by melchior
i don't know... i have trouble seeing how anyone would choose apple for these kinds of applications....

it seems to me they don't have a chance in hell to make inroads on the corporate and server markets. windows and sun just dominate too heavily.

does anyone have any information (facts) on how the xserve is doing?

that said i think it's very cool that apple is doing this and who knows, with the 970's this might just be a viable business venture after all. i hope apple can get a bit more respect when/if the 970 delivers what we all hope it will.

You know, I find it interesting that you didn't mention what I consider to be the vastly more dominant platform for things like cluster, namely Linux. Every cluster that I've ever dealt with (in one industry setting, two scientific settings, and two educational settings) were all Linux clusters. I don't think that I've ever even heard of a Windows cluster.

All of that said, I hope that Apple continues to push on in this direction. From what I've read, they could well develop this into a platform that can easily compete with everything else that's out there. :cool:

nuckinfutz
Apr 23, 2003, 02:48 AM
http://www.insanely-great.com/news.php?id=2022

The Xserve is doing just fine. Apple is smart to remain "humble" currently in this space. I can say with some certainty that while Microsoft is the Server of choice for Small and Midsize companies(speaking generally here with no empirical data) I think you'll find many upset companies about the difficulties of implementing Active Directory.

The PPC 970 will help but Stability is valued over absolute speed in most environments.

I think we eventually see Apple push into 2U configurations which are easier to Design. I think we see more Grid/Clustering solutions and Rendezvous. The next two updates to OSX Panther and ??? will probably really start to finetune some Network functionality. Apple should go from .003% Server Marketshare to enough to generate some real Revenue.

jholzner
Apr 23, 2003, 03:04 AM
Originally posted by Snowy_River
You know, I find it interesting that you didn't mention what I consider to be the vastly more dominant platform for things like cluster, namely Linux. Every cluster that I've ever dealt with (in one industry setting, two scientific settings, and two educational settings) were all Linux clusters. I don't think that I've ever even heard of a Windows cluster.

All of that said, I hope that Apple continues to push on in this direction. From what I've read, they could well develop this into a platform that can easily compete with everything else that's out there. :cool:

It seems that the key idea here is Unix...both Linux and Mac OS X are based on Unix...Windows isn't...seems clear that the platform of choice here is not some proprietary OS but one based on open source and a tried and true base (Unix). I think that Apple has a hit on there hands with OS X...it's perfect!!! Once the 970s hit the stage...Apple has EVERYTHING going for them. Their future is bright indeed!!

melchior
Apr 23, 2003, 03:45 AM
Originally posted by Snowy_River
You know, I find it interesting that you didn't mention what I consider to be the vastly more dominant platform for things like cluster, namely Linux. Every cluster that I've ever dealt with (in one industry setting, two scientific settings, and two educational settings) were all Linux clusters. I don't think that I've ever even heard of a Windows cluster.


i was being more general than just clustering. i was referring to apple's whole "IBM-ish" direction they are taking as a sideline. xserve. xraid. xgrid. a little off topic, or at least a path that should be been explained... of course you would never run windows in a clustering grid, why would you want to? too much overhead, too unstable, blah blah blah. *nix is stable and flexible and has a small footprint.

mr. neuman said that this could good for designers. i guess we are talking video designers. i hope we are not saying that soon you'll need an xgrid to run photoshop. maybe just one for iphoto, imovie and itunes... :D but seriously, for say, users of say shake... they would design on the mac and then take the project over to their.... beowulf cluster :cool: on the other hand, it would be sweet to have an xserve, xraid and an xgrid in my basement. start my own animation company. be a major player with only $25,000 + the skills

and i did just have another thought... FCP is becoming more and more intensive. With Soundtrack Content and livetype content FCP4 is looking to be VERY render intensive. i also make this guess (and i can't wait to get my hands on it) because they have added a lot of features to avoid rendering until you really are ready to. so yeah, another reason to have an xraif under your desk - other than those chilli winter nights:D

A@ron
Apr 23, 2003, 06:58 AM
Originally posted by MrMacman
Hm... may be good for buisness, but you never know do you?

Nope we never do but the fact that Shake 2 has this feature built in makes me believe that apple may not go toward the XGrid but rather toward seperate per application support. Comeon, I don't think I need MS Office running on XGrid :)

A@ron

dguisinger
Apr 23, 2003, 08:14 AM
Originally posted by Snowy_River
You know, I find it interesting that you didn't mention what I consider to be the vastly more dominant platform for things like cluster, namely Linux. Every cluster that I've ever dealt with (in one industry setting, two scientific settings, and two educational settings) were all Linux clusters. I don't think that I've ever even heard of a Windows cluster.

All of that said, I hope that Apple continues to push on in this direction. From what I've read, they could well develop this into a platform that can easily compete with everything else that's out there. :cool:

Never heard of a Windows Cluster? Thats what Windows Data Center was designed for, its actually pretty neat to see. Saw a demonstration when I was at the Windows 2000 launch a few years back. Especially since you could dynamically add / remove machines from the cluster in real-time, and watch graphs on how the cluster was performing.

ennerseed
Apr 23, 2003, 08:57 AM
Originally posted by melchior
i don't know... i have trouble seeing how anyone would choose apple for these kinds of applications....


doh- forgot to actually respond.

ppc chip's, unlike other's, processing power doesn't start a decling the more processors you add. in fact tests show there maybe no end to the amount of ppc processors that can be added.
where on other processors the power from adding starts to slow down, until some point it really won't make it any faster to add more processors.

melchior
Apr 23, 2003, 09:59 AM
Originally posted by ennerseed
doh- forgot to actually respond.

ppc chip's, unlike other's, processing power doesn't start a decling the more processors you add. in fact tests show there maybe no end to the amount of ppc processors that can be added.
where on other processors the power from adding starts to slow down, until some point it really won't make it any faster to add more processors.

that sounds particularly interesting. do you have a link i could head over to?

dguisinger
Apr 23, 2003, 10:06 AM
Originally posted by ennerseed
doh- forgot to actually respond.

ppc chip's, unlike other's, processing power doesn't start a decling the more processors you add. in fact tests show there maybe no end to the amount of ppc processors that can be added.
where on other processors the power from adding starts to slow down, until some point it really won't make it any faster to add more processors.

Uhh.....then why is the G4 so bogged down? Because the 2 processors share a single (and slow) bus. The PIII and P4 Xeon use shared busses as well. The Athlons use a point-to-point, which is fast to the chipset, but slows down when using shared resources such as memory, video, or I/O.

Putting processors in a cluster is better........seperate I/O, memory, etc, however then the network speed slows down the capabilities.....don't forget not only do you have network speed, but you have to decode the packets, figure out what they mean, and then tell the CPU whether to schedule new tasks, or transfer contents from memory to another CPU.......very slow process compared to telling a CPU where to look in shared memory in a SMP configuration.

There are tradeoffs, but there is no such thing as a perfect configuration. The more CPUs, the less efficient you will be by design (on a total cycles efficiently used measurement). Of course, the more CPUs, the less you will notice some aspects, but under load, it will definately show its cracks.

gambit
Apr 23, 2003, 10:21 AM
I don't think I need MS Office running on XGrid
you dont... the main reasons clusters are used are for rendering(sound,3D,etc.) cause I know this iBook is as quick as crap... I would kill for a xServe cluster... *sigh* *goes off into dreamland imagining rendering a Quicktime VR in 3 seconds... ahh...*:p

illumin8
Apr 23, 2003, 10:36 AM
Here is the actual site that explains Sun's GridEngine Technology (http://wwws.sun.com/software/gridware/).

The way this technology is used is very similar to the way AfterEffects can farm out render processes to other systems. The application itself has to be grid aware and this usually involves a re-write.

For a good example of how this is used in the real world, look no further than Pixar. Pixar uses Sun Enterprise 4500s setup in a large GridEngine cluster. They write their own custom rendering software that can farm out rendering across many hundreds of systems.

I'd heard that more recently Pixar was switching to Linux as the price/performance ratio of cheap Intel boxes has gone up.

Apple is going to have a tough time making inroads to this highly competitive market. Lintel boxes have been eating into Sun's bottom line quite a bit and forcing them to sell low-end boxes for dirt cheap prices. You can now buy a SunFire V210 with 2 900mhz. UltraSparc III processors and 4GB of RAM for less than $3000. It's going to be tough for Apple's Xserve to compete with this, especially since the UltraSparc III clocked at 1.2ghz outperforms a Pentium IV Xeon at 3ghz. (due to a massive 8MB L2 cache).

Just a little insight into this from a Sun employee. As always my opinions are not those of my employer.

ennerseed
Apr 23, 2003, 10:41 AM
Originally posted by melchior
that sounds particularly interesting. do you have a link i could head over to?

http://daugerresearch.com/fractaldemos/USCCluster/USCMacClusterBenchmark.html

this one using xServes and 10.2
http://daugerresearch.com/fractaldemos/JPLXServes/JPLXServeClusterBenchmark.html

ennerseed
Apr 23, 2003, 10:46 AM
Originally posted by dguisinger

Putting processors in a cluster is better........

I was speaking of clustering, sorry I didn't fully explain.

docpsycho
Apr 23, 2003, 11:04 AM
A computer for the rest uf us? Well, where is it? All this talk of of scalar computing . . is not for the rest of us!!

Do i need to really be able to spell check a document at something close to the speed of light? NO, Ineed to enjoy my sip of coffee!!!

Steve's turtleneck sweater is still restricting blood from his brain.
Delusions of grandious schemes (glory hog) is not going to make on the best platforms better . . . for the rest of us. I would like to see apple be a dominant mainstream machine . . . but you need to prove the geeks in taped glasses so wrong they just drop like flies in thier sheer ignorance!

Just Gimme' a 128 bit G6 @ 20GHZ with 64 MB Total cache, 5Ghz board . . . . . and I want it next week . . . .

Don't expect to see it from motorola, they can't even make a decent cell phone anymore (what R&D monies?)

'nuff said

Snowy_River
Apr 23, 2003, 11:09 AM
Originally posted by dguisinger
Never heard of a Windows Cluster? Thats what Windows Data Center was designed for, its actually pretty neat to see. Saw a demonstration when I was at the Windows 2000 launch a few years back. Especially since you could dynamically add / remove machines from the cluster in real-time, and watch graphs on how the cluster was performing.

See? Now I have heard of a Windows cluster. :D
(Though this was just a demonstration, not a cluster in use...)

But, my point was that they are obviously pretty rare, even if MS has built the possibility into Windows. So, I do think that there is an obvious inclination toward *nix based clusters.

ffakr
Apr 23, 2003, 12:56 PM
Originally posted by illumin8
especially since the UltraSparc III clocked at 1.2ghz outperforms a Pentium IV Xeon at 3ghz. (due to a massive 8MB L2 cache).

Too bad for Sun, this is only true when the application absolutely needs tons of Cache.
USIII is not a very impressive chip anymore.

illumin8
Apr 23, 2003, 01:11 PM
Originally posted by ffakr
Too bad for Sun, this is only true when the application absolutely needs tons of Cache.
USIII is not a very impressive chip anymore.
Not to nitpick, but server apps do. Multi-threaded web or database applications live on large L2 cache. If you are just encoding DVDs on your Windows XP machine then go with the PIV at 3ghz; you'll get better performance.

As always, use the right tool for the job.

marshy
Apr 23, 2003, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by illumin8

You can now buy a SunFire V210 with 2 900mhz. UltraSparc III processors and 4GB of RAM for less than $3000. It's going to be tough for Apple's Xserve to compete with this, especially since the UltraSparc III clocked at 1.2ghz outperforms a Pentium IV Xeon at 3ghz. (due to a massive 8MB L2 cache).

Just a little insight into this from a Sun employee. As always my opinions are not those of my employer.

Hey, if you're willing to sell me dual processor V210's with 4GB RAM for less than $3k I'll start up a reseller business tomorrow... ;-)

In fact, if you look at your employer's web-site (here -> http://store.sun.com/catalog/doc/BrowsePage.jhtml?catid=100054) you'll find that it costs $5795.00!!

Still not expensive (for what it is), but definitely not the bargain you make it out to be....

melchior
Apr 23, 2003, 07:14 PM
i'm pretty sure i read pixar moved over to amd for their render farms....

vniow
Apr 23, 2003, 07:30 PM
Originally posted by melchior
i'm pretty sure i read pixar moved over to amd for their render farms....

Nope, Intel.

illumin8
Apr 24, 2003, 10:09 AM
Originally posted by marshy
Hey, if you're willing to sell me dual processor V210's with 4GB RAM for less than $3k I'll start up a reseller business tomorrow... ;-)

In fact, if you look at your employer's web-site (here -> http://store.sun.com/catalog/doc/BrowsePage.jhtml?catid=100054) you'll find that it costs $5795.00!!

Still not expensive (for what it is), but definitely not the bargain you make it out to be....
You are correct. It's actually the 1 proc @ 1ghz. with 512MB of RAM version that is under $3000. In the marketing presentation I watched they compared it side by side with a Dell PowerEdge server and the PowerEdge came in at something like $3500 for a similar configuration, before even adding the Windows tax.

Either way it's a good deal for a real Unix system. We have had to drop our prices tremendously to compete with the Wintel/Lintel boxes that are out there.

jamilecrire
Apr 24, 2003, 03:30 PM
Originally posted by MrMacman
Hm... may be good for buisness, but you never know do you?

As a owner of my own business the only other platform I'm considering is OS X Server (we currently run Linux and unfortunately have 1 windows server). My company will be adding more servers in the next 6-12 months but I'm willing to wait a little longer for apple to release 970 based XServes. I have no need for XRaid or XGrid.

The ONLY two things holding me back on pulling the trigger are Oracle is in Release Candidate Stage (2 which it has been for a long time) and I need a 64bit platform for database tasks. If Apple doesn't show me something in the next 12-18 months I'll be stuck with running Oracle on either Xeon based (yes I know 32bit) Linux systems or plunk down insane amounts for an UltraSPARC based system (I currenly have one). I guess the new AMD Opteron (spelling?) is an option but it's the same as OS X Server. No Oracle, although IBM said DB2 is currently being ported to a native 64bit Opteron version.

Oh well, I guess the focus of this novel is 970 based XServes, and the associated hardware (XGrid/XRaid) are excellent for business. Look at how much a dual 1.05GHz UltraSPARC system is...

Edit: I forgot Oracle is making an Opteron version of 9i, it's in Developer Release Candidate Stage 2 as well. Guess Linux/Opteron may be my choice. Come on Apple, give me a reason to question my decision.

phrantic
Apr 25, 2003, 01:51 AM
Originally posted by ennerseed
doh- forgot to actually respond.

ppc chip's, unlike other's, processing power doesn't start a decling the more processors you add. in fact tests show there maybe no end to the amount of ppc processors that can be added.
where on other processors the power from adding starts to slow down, until some point it really won't make it any faster to add more processors.

Unfortunately, without you linking to some supporting documents, I'm calling this post BS. Parallel processing problems such as Cache Coherency, the bandwidth limitations between processors, and latency are three BIG drawbacks that will forever keep processors (no matter who makes them or what the processor architecture) from being added in large numbers. 4 processors on one card (in an SMP machine like the Sun 15K http://www.sun.com/servers/highend/sunfire15k/specs.xml ) is about all you can manage before you have to start interconnecting cards via huge crossbar switches and whatnot. But latency soon becomes a big factor (as well as heat and power consumption) in how large you scale machines with cards of 4 cpu's. That's why the Sun 15K tops out at 106 processors.

Please defend yourself or quit spreading FUD. PPC is not the end all be all of processors. It does not defy the limitations of physics and the speed of light.

phrantic
Apr 25, 2003, 02:13 AM
But I guess you were more or less quoting this
After running a series of numerically-intensive trials on a 33-node XServe cluster, we were able to achieve over 1/5 TeraFlop on certain problems. These results were very repeatable. No evidence of an intrinsic limit to the size of a Macintosh-based cluster could be found. Building on a previous result using 76 Power Macs at USC, this finding is further evidence that Macintosh-based clusters are capable of excellent scalability in performance.

Fine, they found "no evidence of an intrinsic limit to the size of a Mac-based cluster," but being mac-based or not, given their tests and results, they wouldn't find scaling problems among other platforms. They failed to acknowledge the effects of the interconnect (just 100BaseT?) and the fact that fractal generation is "Embarrassingly Parallel". If clusters can have "no intrinsic limit" and do all their message passing over 100BaseT, they why do people like myrinet http://www.myri.com/ and Quadrics http://www.quadrics.com/ exist and provide incredibly high speed interconnects? Or check out http://www.top500.org/lists/2002/11/ to see the lists of the top 500 cluster (usually) computers in existence. Take note of the number of nodes and processors, the interconnects, and then think if their tests on a 33 node Xserve cluster truly shows a _lack_ of an intrinsic limit to PPC clustering. That's a pretty bold claim based on a tiny cluster (in comparison) running an embarressingly parallel problem.

Snowy_River
Apr 29, 2003, 07:29 PM
Originally posted by phrantic
But I guess you were more or less quoting this


Fine, they found "no evidence of an intrinsic limit to the size of a Mac-based cluster," but being mac-based or not, given their tests and results, they wouldn't find scaling problems among other platforms. They failed to acknowledge the effects of the interconnect (just 100BaseT?) and the fact that fractal generation is "Embarrassingly Parallel". If clusters can have "no intrinsic limit" and do all their message passing over 100BaseT, they why do people like myrinet http://www.myri.com/ and Quadrics http://www.quadrics.com/ exist and provide incredibly high speed interconnects? Or check out http://www.top500.org/lists/2002/11/ to see the lists of the top 500 cluster (usually) computers in existence. Take note of the number of nodes and processors, the interconnects, and then think if their tests on a 33 node Xserve cluster truly shows a _lack_ of an intrinsic limit to PPC clustering. That's a pretty bold claim based on a tiny cluster (in comparison) running an embarressingly parallel problem.

Just thought I'd clear up a point here, not that I'm in any way intending to defend the previous poster's position, as I don't know enough about the XServe to make any kind of judgement...

But, the XServe does not have 100Base-T ethernet connections. It, in fact, has Gigabit (1000Base-T) ethernet connections.

Just thought I'd clear that up.

Uh... one other thing, I think...

Isn't the point of a cluster to run very, very parallel operations (whether 'embarassingly' so or not)? The instances where I've most often seen clusters used are areas where the exact same set of calculations needs to be run over a wide variety of data, or something similar (as in high end molecular modeling, or super-collider data analysis). If that's not as parallel as fractal calculations, then I'm not sure what is. This is the kind of application that I'm excited about seeing Apple move into the server industry for.
:)