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MacRumors
Jan 6, 2004, 01:49 PM
Apple announced (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2004/jan/06xgrid.html) a preview of Xgrid technology today.
Apple today previewed Xgrid, a computational clustering technology from Apple’s Advanced Computation Group (ACG). Xgrid helps scientists and others working in compute intensive environments to fully utilize all IT resources, including desktops and servers, by creating a grid enabled “virtual” IT environment that takes advantage of unused computing capacity to run batch and workload processing.Xgrid is available as a free download from Apple starting today, according to the press release.

Xgrid was first trademarked (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2002/11/20021102090635.shtml) in 2002, spawning much speculation.

Nicky G
Jan 6, 2004, 02:03 PM
This is potentially great -- perhaps more and more apps will now come to support rendering on a network of machines. That would kick butt for apps such as, say, MojoWorld Generator, which can take a really good amount of time to render!

spankalee
Jan 6, 2004, 02:25 PM
I think, along with the G5 XServe, this is possibly the biggest announcement of the day (iPod Mini would have been if it was priced at $200).

Clusters are notoriously hard to set up, especially if you're interested in using the computing power of, say, your iMac lab for a night time render or simulation.

Bringing Rendezvous and "Apple Ease of Use" to clustering automatically increases the value of all existing Macs for institutions, and will create a lot more interest in Macs among corporate and educational markets.

Imagine an Apple pitch to a major university: "Not only do you get 500 easy to use iMacs for your english labs, and 50 powerful G5s for your art department, but you'll get a top 100 super computer for free!"

I can't wait to see programs like LightWave, Maya and RenderMan support Xgrid. I wonder if Xcode's distributed compiling already uses it?

ffakr
Jan 6, 2004, 02:34 PM
Originally posted by spankalee
I think, along with the G5 XServe, this is possibly the biggest announcement of the day (iPod Mini would have been if it was priced at $200).

The mini ipod isn't cheap.. but neither are decent flash MP3 players. I shoped for one a while ago and decided it wasn't worth dropping over $150 for a decent player with crap for storage. For what you get I think $249 is a very good price, though i would of course preferred to see it come in cheaper.
I wonder if Xcode's distributed compiling already uses it?
I was told by an upity up in the xcode project that they did not use the same technology in xcode as in other (pending) clustering projects. I was basically told.. no, it's not the same, no I can't tell you what's coming, yes, it's very cool.
:-)

woodgie
Jan 6, 2004, 02:40 PM
Originally posted by Macrumors

Xgrid is available as a free download from Apple starting today, according to the press release.

Where, dammit... Need linkage... can't find... pant, pant, pant

;)

X86BSD
Jan 6, 2004, 02:46 PM
Originally posted by woodgie
Where, dammit... Need linkage... can't find... pant, pant, pant

;)

Ditto!
*bump*

Pedro Estarque
Jan 6, 2004, 02:51 PM
I'll be waiting for the day when I can use all my macs ( 4.5 GHz of combined processing power! ) to run photoshop batch.

liudger
Jan 6, 2004, 02:55 PM
ftp://ftp.apple.com/developer/Tool_Chest/Xgrid1.0.dmg.bin

just did a search on apple site

the have also a dedicated website

http://www.apple.com/acg/xgrid/

woodgie
Jan 6, 2004, 02:58 PM
Originally posted by liudger
ftp://ftp.apple.com/developer/Tool_Chest/Xgrid1.0.dmg.bin

just did a search on apple site

the have also a dedicated website

http://www.apple.com/acg/xgrid/

Must have just appeared then :) I searched last about 10 minutes ago.

liudger
Jan 6, 2004, 02:59 PM
tachometer is coool is shows the amount of power of your renderfarm :)

liudger
Jan 6, 2004, 03:01 PM
As more people on the network share their resources, you can solve more problems. Not a bad metaphor for life, either.

sosumi
Jan 6, 2004, 03:33 PM
Anybody knows if programs must be updated to be distributed by xGrid, or is it all handled automatically?

///M Power
Jan 6, 2004, 03:41 PM
Originally posted by sosumi
Anybody knows if programs must be updated to be distributed by xGrid, or is it all handled automatically?

Something I want to know as well!

It be great to have all the Macs at my home all working on one SETI unit or something... Heck, I just want to see this in action on my network! haha

Koyder
Jan 6, 2004, 03:46 PM
For the love of God, why another Brushed Metal app? I can't take it anymore!

Krevnik
Jan 6, 2004, 04:05 PM
Well, looking into Xgrid, it seems to send commands across the network, and get the output that app creates. The question I have for this is this: will it copy programs needed to run if they don't exist on the other machines in the grid? I would love to use this to take certain video conversion apps available (OpenShiva) and write a similar-functioning plug-in for Xgrid, which is doable (audio on some machines, video on others)... but the CLI software that is needed to do the actual processing would need to exist on all machines... does Xgrid copy this stuff over automagically, or do I have to have copies of the software already available on all systems to participate in the grid?

spankalee
Jan 6, 2004, 04:12 PM
Originally posted by sosumi
Anybody knows if programs must be updated to be distributed by xGrid, or is it all handled automatically?

It looks like programs will need to use the Xgrid APIs to take full advantage of it, but that you can use it out of the box for launching distributed batch command-line programs (not truly a distributed app).

What's interesting is that it looks like Xgrid is not really a cluster communication system; the page mentions that it doesn't replace protocols like MPI. Instead Xgrid helps you manage the cluster and apps, and helps make sure that each instance has access to all the necessary resources (files, settings, etc).

I think this is a good strategy, because a program that uses MPI will not have to be radically altered, but can be enhanced by using the Xgrid API.

wrc fan
Jan 6, 2004, 06:52 PM
Originally posted by spankalee
I wonder if Xcode's distributed compiling already uses it?

xcode uses rendezvous and distcc (http://distcc.samba.org/)

sky131
Jan 6, 2004, 07:16 PM
I used the demo of Xgrid and had my own little 5GHz cluster in my house. Way cool.

Hopefully this technology will be effective for many of us creative type without being too much of a hassle. I have faith in Apple that it will be all good.

varmit
Jan 6, 2004, 08:34 PM
so this clusters two or more computers together. does it work with any program, what did you run on your 5ghz cluster.

GovornorPhatt
Jan 6, 2004, 09:10 PM
I wonder if this would work with folding@home? Imagine the work units! Would sometime in the future it be possible to render final cut pro movies using x-grid? The curent x-grid plugins are of little use to me, but i would use it with photoshop.

sky131
Jan 6, 2004, 09:23 PM
Originally posted by GovornorPhatt
Would sometime in the future it be possible to render final cut pro movies using x-grid? The curent x-grid plugins are of little use to me, but i would use it with photoshop.

I am in agreement. It will be great if I can use it with PS and FCP4, but other than that, I would have little use for it.

I just tested it with the demo processes.

Krevnik
Jan 6, 2004, 10:31 PM
Well, XGrid only works with commands/scripts that can be sent across the network. It cannot send threads across the network, so you aren't going to see MP type performance, but rather a way to take multiple processes that need to occur and do them simultaneously on multiple machines.

I would definitely like to see FCP4 get integrated enough that it could break up a render job into chunks and send the chunks to various machines, BUT... all machines have to have access to the proper source footage, which would be problematic without some sort of built-in networking code in FCP4.

I think a good first test is to take an open source app like OpenShiiva and see if we can get it working with XGrid as proof.

woodsey
Jan 6, 2004, 10:37 PM
Anyone know if this is going to remain free when the final version comes out?

Is it going to be seperately purchaseable software, or will it come as part of OS X?

GregA
Jan 7, 2004, 12:06 AM
Yeah... hopefully with Apple's focus on video we'll see that automatically using Xgrid before long. DVD compressing, FCP, iMovie, why not all of them?

Yes Apple may need some way of moving/sharing files to do this - but it's not like they don't already share files, just need to manage it in Xgrid.

(My only extra requirement is that it use LATENT cpu and network time - I don't want it noticeably slowing down my network or another machines in use.)

ffakr
Jan 7, 2004, 12:17 AM
Originally posted by GregAussie
Yeah... hopefully with Apple's focus on video we'll see that automatically using Xgrid before long. DVD compressing, FCP, iMovie, why not all of them?

Yes Apple may need some way of moving/sharing files to do this - but it's not like they don't already share files, just need to manage it in Xgrid.

(My only extra requirement is that it use LATENT cpu and network time - I don't want it noticeably slowing down my network or another machines in use.)

All the info on xgrid is in the readme and faq included with the package. There really isn't any need to wonder about these things.

xGrid can run in a screensave mode... just like Zilla (it's daddy)
You tell xgrid to connect to the first cluster it finds, or to connect to a specific cluster, you tell it to only run when idle (screen saver mode). You can even change the screensaver to a new one that displays the number of cycles being donated to xgrid.

yamabushi
Jan 7, 2004, 01:12 AM
Xgrid game servers would be cool. ;) Hmm...now I need to design a game that can take advantage of this.:cool: Maybe a Counterstrike type of game with 100 players and 1000 bots. :D

sky131
Jan 7, 2004, 01:34 AM
Was anyone able to get the screen saver to actually display the data for their cluster. Mine was running at 5GHz, but the screen saver tachometer deal was sitting pretty at 0.

supatekmedia88
Jan 7, 2004, 05:45 PM
I just installed Xgrid, and realize very soon all rendering apps could be
configured for it. The tachometer screensaver worked perfectly.

Virginia Tech should do Maya and Shake rendering, making the world's
largest renderfarm.

Film directors like myself could go there to do big 3d projects, fight with
the big studios.

I forget how many nodes Pixar is currently running, but I'm sure Virginia Tech
could make some $$$ doing this.

A great idea.



http://www.supatek.com

MasterX (OSiX)
Jan 7, 2004, 11:07 PM
Yeah you can't use Xgrid for Photoshop or iMovie. People are thinking in terms of low latency requirement high processing, however grids and clusters are designed for low bandwidth per minute computations. They are used for insane math and rendering because you can send (in the case of SETI) about 240K of data to a node, have it crunch for a whopping 10 hours and have it come back. iMovie or FCP would need the network to carry gigabytes per second to say only 5 computers, then receive these files back and expect it all to work well? Not likely. VTech could pull it off with their 20GBps Full Duplex Fiber, but the best home networks are usually 100 Mbps Duplex switched networks, which isn't going to cut it for photoshop (which to be broken up, sent out in 4 or 9 blocks, processed and returned would be way too much overhead for anything but a G5, which already runs Photoshop fast enough). Xgrid isn't a consumer app, it's for massive jobs which take many hours to complete (instead of days on one machine).

Krevnik
Jan 7, 2004, 11:16 PM
Ah, but I would like to point out that it is possible to do some of this stuff IF you can pipe the parts of video over the line... Xgrid could help make a renderfarm easier to manage, but it definitely isn't for photoshop or the like... heck, I am just curious how long it will take to compute the factorial of 1 million on a decent sized Xgrid cluster.

isgoed
Jan 8, 2004, 07:12 AM
I am wondering if XGrid can be used to use the computerpower of other users across the internet. Sort like peer 2 peer computing. Everybody on the internet just makes his computer available for computing and xgrid distributes all requests.

As i read it, it is not intended as so, since it only states examples where all the computers are controlled by a single entity (administrator/company/owner). Also the main use of it is intensive computing and any program that wants to take advantage of it needs to be rewritten.

What really would bring computing to the people was if I for example could use high computing power while i am traveling with my 550mhz powerbook. It would be nice if xgrid tasks can be handled in the background while the user is using his computer.

Or run your own Seti Project for example.