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MacBytes
Jan 29, 2004, 09:01 AM
Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: Apple recently released a groundbreaking technology that could soon change the way universities and home users use their computers... Its name ? XGrid... Not convinced ? Well, read on ! (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20040129100123)

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)

Approved by Mudbug

adamfilip
Jan 29, 2004, 09:17 AM
this sounds cool.. the only thing i dont understanad is

can it speed up any application?

lets say im rendering something in Cinema 4d will it help there?

if not what applications could the average consumer run that would take advantage of this technololgy

?

edesignuk
Jan 29, 2004, 09:25 AM
Originally posted by adamfilip
can it speed up any application?

lets say im rendering something in Cinema 4d will it help there?

if not what applications could the average consumer run that would take advantage of this technololgy

?
Am the moment, as far as I can tell, no, it' can't. But the technology is there (and very simple it is to by the sounds of things) so that it may well wind up in future OS's/Apps. Maybe a new pref pane in FCP to enable XGrid? Or in Maya? It has HUGE potential!

0 and A ai
Jan 29, 2004, 09:42 AM
Well it would be nice to have the option to render stuff in FCP and maya with xgrid.

sabbath999
Jan 29, 2004, 10:58 AM
Originally posted by 0 and A ai
Well it would be nice to have the option to render stuff in FCP and maya with xgrid.

Or, more importantly to me at at least, compressor/DVDSP 2

Distributed rendering of mpeg2 video would be a good thing.

nagromme
Jan 29, 2004, 11:57 AM
Presumably Apple will be making this easy for developers to incorporate into apps. I'd sure love to add my eMac's power to my PowerBook, for certain things like big Photoshop radial blurs, movie and 3D rendering, Folding@Home, etc.

Another example to think about: what if Virginia Tech uses XGrid to ADD spare machines all over campus to the G5 supercluster? I think VT uses a fair amount of Macs, even if the supercluster guy never touched one before Big Mac--and students could voluntarily allow their OWN Macs to be on the grid. The racked XServes would be the base power, with a variable amount of additional power added on via XGrid. They could disable it for certain projects at will (Folding@Home runs fine with slower connections, but some jobs need Infiniband, not ethernet)--but the rest of the time, every little bit helps!

Say they can get up to 200 reasonably recent Macs helping at once, and each one, on average, is just a bit more than half as fast as a dual G5. In other words, 200 Macs that equal another 110 G5s. Up to a 10% speed boost for certain apps that work in larger units! Not bad for "free" hardware and software. 10 Teraflops becomes 11, even if official stats can't claim it full-time.

Just a hypothetical example. But I bet lots of universities start using student Macs (and campus Macs) as volunteer clusters! Even competing against each other... and for no cost beyond power since the machines were already going to be there asleep.

By the way, here's the 6MB direct download link:
ftp://ftp.apple.com/developer/Tool_Chest/Xgrid1.0.dmg.bin

mainstreetmark
Jan 29, 2004, 12:36 PM
I've been dreaming of this technology since I was in college, late at night, waiting for my little CG to render, knowing full well, that two roommates, whose machines I could see on Appletalk, were just sitting there. "I wish, I wish I could make each of them do a frame of this thing. I'd finish in 1/3rd the time".

And yes, I agree. I think very soon, every major (mac) application will automatically use the idle computing power of the macs on the Lan. Think of how cool that could be in a dorm? Running a Mathematica simulation in a few seconds versus hours.

THAT, young patowan, is the future.

nagromme
Jan 29, 2004, 01:53 PM
Many 3D apps already do "network rendering"--even cross-platform. EI, Lightwave, etc. But this should make such solutions simpler for developers AND users.

Now... can Xgrid be used cross-platform? It's Rendezvous-based, so it wouldn't surprise me if that came. But leaving it as a Mac-only perk for a rime makes some sense too.

Laslo Panaflex
Jan 29, 2004, 02:01 PM
This taken from the apple discusion boards:

Most everyday tasks are not suited for multi-processor systems (also not for a simple "dual" processor Mac).

It's not as simple as 2 ghz + 2 ghz = 4 ghz.

E.g. if you have 2 calculations A and B and Calculation B depends on the result of calculation A. Then, 2 processors would not make it faster than 1 processor: the second processor which has to do calculation B has to wait for the result from the first processor.

If a single process can be divided in several processes that can run simultaneously on several different processors then the speadgain of doing so has to be significant because dividing the proces and controling the different processes/processors takes overhead time. The thing is: you want to loose some time in order to win a lot of time.
Most everyday tasks are not of this kind. Heavy scientific research calculations, rendering tasks, compression tasks, ... are much better suited to run on multi proc systems.

Hope this clears up some things for people

nagromme
Jan 29, 2004, 02:28 PM
And of course most "everyday" tasks run plenty fast already!

But I think a lot of surprising uses will be found, even for low-end users.

PS on a dual-CPU OS X Mac, I'm told that if a particular app doesn't really use both CPUs, it at least gets a CPU all to itself while in the foreground--while the OS and all other apps together run on the other CPU. That gives you real speed benefits for ANY app, with nothing special from the developer.

MrMacMan
Jan 30, 2004, 12:13 AM
It has pottential for something great to incorperate with tons of other apps...

But nothing 'on its own'