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More Virginia Tech Cluster Details

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
51,543
13,169
A few articles provide some more details on Virginia Tech's upcoming PowerMac G5 cluster.

TechNewsWorld provides quotes from Dean Hassan Aref that the total price tag on the cluster "is probably a factor of 10 lower than a machine in this class in the past".

The PowerMacs will be running Mac OS X, and as mentioned before, will be linked with hardware from Mellanox and Cisco.

Roanoke Times reports that the cost for the project will be $5.2 million over the next five years, and that they are trying to get the system setup by October 1st 2003 to be considered in the next Top 500 Supercomputer rankings.

An interesting tidbit from CollegiateTimes brings the total weight of the PowerMacs in at 19.25 Tons -- and simply moving the hardware will take about six days with 15-20 volunteers.
 

JoeRadar

macrumors regular
May 28, 2003
153
0
Apple in sweet spot

During a recent analysts meeting HP's Fiorina said the mid-range server market was essentially going away, which is hurting HP's numbers. Apparently the high-end server market is relatively stable, with the growth is going towards the low end servers.

Apple seems to have hit the server market at the right time. While the VaTech cluster is PowerMacs and not Xservers, this should help give Apple a lot of street cred.

Regarding the clusters, the currently hot topic, I don't see a lot/any of them based on Windows. It looks like a two horse race for the growth area in the server market: Linux and Macs.
 
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trog

macrumors member
Jan 23, 2003
45
0
Yeah, I'll help move too! (I don't think they'd miss just ONE of those ;)
 
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ghutchis

macrumors newbie
Jun 23, 2003
7
0
Ithaca, NY
Re: No Windows Clusters

No, there aren't many Windows clusters for a few (hopefully) obvious reasons:

- per-CPU/per-seat pricing
- reliability
- UNIX

Pricing is one of the biggies, IMHO. At least right now, Microsoft doesn't have any sort of "cluster pricing" or "unlimited node" deal. Since the whole point of clustering is to have a low-price supercomputer, you don't want to pay much for the OS. Apple has fortunately figured this out.

One can argue reliability, but there's certainly the perception that Windows has lower reliability in the clustering community.

UNIX? Well... most of the uses for clusters are in scientific computation, and the number-crunching stuff has long been written for UNIX or UNIX-like platforms. Why do you want to port your simulation program to Windows? So Linux or Solaris or Mac OS X are great cluster solutions--you can often just recompile the package and it "just works."

I think this is a great market for Apple to push. I've seen a lot of interest in the G5 and if they can undercut Itanium or Opteron clusters, they'll be in a great position. (Yes, there are clusters around me which we'd love to have >4GB per node for performance benefits.)

-Geoff
 
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shadowfax

macrumors 603
Sep 6, 2002
5,849
0
Houston, TX
Originally posted by evolu
I'm glad they're running OS X contrary to past reports...
as am i. i think this is very good for apple.

i wonder if any other places will be clustering these on this scale anytime soon?
 
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york2600

macrumors 6502
Jul 24, 2002
256
246
Portland, OR
If you want to use Windows on a cluster your going to need Windows Server 2003 Enterprise of Datacenter Edition. That's going to run you $4,000 retail with 25 CALs. Granted you'd be able to get a Select license and bring the cost down quite a bit if you were buying say...1100, but you would still be paying an insane amount for an OS that you would be working harder to use if your environment. While *nix is a tougher setup $4,000 X 1100 can certainly buy a techie to do the admin work.
 
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richters

macrumors newbie
Aug 6, 2003
21
0
Re: More Virginia Tech Cluster Details

Originally posted by Macrumors
-cut- ... brings the total weight of the PowerMacs in at 19.25 Tons -- and simply moving the hardware will take about six days with 15-20 volunteers.
The Apple advertised weight for the units is 17.8 kilograms each, times 1100 units: yes, that is about right.
However, moving 1100 units over six days, that is about 183 units per day, with even only 15 volunteers, that is about 12 units per person per day.
I figure they could do much better than that.
I think I can easily move many more units in a day, by using some suitable transportation tools.
Come on guys, apply some transportation logistics.
 
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Shrike_Priest

macrumors member
Jun 24, 2002
33
0
if Apple just launch a cheap G5 Xserve, they will OWN this market.

I'm thinking this is a great way to get a foot in the door. This is a market they have a much better chance at raising their market share considering they're competitively price here, which they are not in the desktop market.

Lots of Mac servers/clusters means that a lot more people will hear about the platform, and will think that it's more powerful than PCs. And so on. After a while, that'll migrate to the desktop business.
 
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Chomolungma

macrumors regular
Jul 25, 2002
206
0
Santa Fe, NM
an example

Originally posted by stoid
Only one question left?

What the hell are they going to do with that much CPU power?!?

an example,

I use a mac to look at small DNA sequence data matrix...looking for pattern in large DNA sequence matrix would require exponential increase in time...The analysis I ran a few weeks ago took 6 days to complete using a single G4 (~70 species, 1800 bp long)...One example of many in the life sciences

-Chomo
 
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Waluigi

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2003
348
0
Connecticut
Re: Re: More Virginia Tech Cluster Details

Originally posted by richters
However, moving 1100 units over six days, that is about 183 units per day, with even only 15 volunteers, that is about 12 units per person per day.
I figure they could do much better than that.
I think I can easily move many more units in a day, by using some suitable transportation tools.
Come on guys, apply some transportation logistics.

That does seem quite low? I've set up many large computer labs with just 3 people (although not quite that large) and the most time consuming part was putting in all the wires, and making them neat. It shouldn't take 6 days to move the boxes! However, if they aren't paid, they might not really want to push it...but still 12 boxes in a day? This will never get up by October 1st if they continue to snail along at this pace. Oh yea, they BETTER recycle all the cardboard boxes; otherwise it might just be ridiculous.

--Waluigi
 
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esheep2001

macrumors member
Jul 22, 2002
92
0
Well I have to say I always had my doubts about the reports saying they'd be running an OS other than OS X. Not only that but I reckon the recent spurt in Panther activity is to try and get that out to them before they finish the hardware plumbing.

e.
 
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tiktokfx

macrumors regular
Aug 7, 2003
137
0
DC Metropolitan Area
WRT to moving/installation time, considering that Tech is apparently using some new sort of cooling rack, it's possible that there will also be work involved in mounting customized rack hardware to the cases, which could very well involve drilling and whatnot. That would drastically increase the time from what it takes to just pull a CPU out of the box and plug it in.
 
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sanaco

macrumors newbie
Sep 3, 2003
4
0
NY NY
I hope that VT was able to cut a deal and save some money on keyboards and mice and did not have to get them included with the G5. If not are we going to see 1,099 keyboards and mice on ebay next week?
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
38,443
4,953
Los Angeles
Maybe they'll use all these Macs for Folding and SETI, and credit the MacRumors teams if we ask them. Seriously, I assume that these Macs are not there for a specific project but to serve all of Virginia Tech's supercomputer needs.
 
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beefstu01

macrumors member
Oct 24, 2002
85
0
CA
I'm sorta wondering how they're going to do this with OSX. Not that it's a bad operating system, but it's quite graphics driven. That takes up a little processing power in itself, multiply that by 1100 and that's a huge loss. Is there any way to run OSX without the GUI? This is why Linux is mainly used for clusters- there is the option of running Linux without X.
 
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Re: More Virginia Tech Cluster Details

Originally posted by Macrumors
The PowerMacs will be running Mac OS X, and as mentioned before, will be linked with hardware from Mellanox and Cisco.

This is why it will take six days or more to install everything. It is not just setting up Macs on a simple gigabit Ethernet network.


Roanoke Times reports that the cost for the project will be $5.2 million over the next five years...

Sorry, I don't believe this for a second. Not one second. The total up front cost hast to be at least $4 million (computers, additonal RAM, networking cards, routers, cabling, racks, cooling systems, etc., etc.) and probably much more. Running it for a cost of $240,000 a year or so is just out of the question. Five high end computer operators will cost much more than that. And that gives only ONE operator on a 24/7/365 basis. (It takes about 5 people to keep one slot fully staffed on a 24/7/365 basis.) Likely on a machine of this size the staff to maintain it will total more than 15 people (1 to 5 people on site at any given moment).
 
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