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New 324-Node Mac Pro Cluster In The Works At Va Tech

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Virginia Tech is building another Mac-based supercomputer, this time out of Mac Pros. According to ArsTechnica, Virginia Tech's Center for High-End Computing System is building a new cluster using 324 Mac Pro towers that will have a theoretical computing capacity of 29 teraflops.

The system will be used to study two main areas: power-aware software systems that can adjust performance automatically to maximize efficiency, and distributed shared memory systems that can run existing threaded code on high-performance clusters "as if they were scaled up versions of multi-core desktops."

Virginia Tech made headlines in 2003 when they assembled a cost-efficient supercomputer named System X out of Power Mac G5s. System X ranked as the third fastest supercomputer in the 22nd edition of the of the Top 500 list, performing at over 10 teraflops. The system was upgraded to 2.3 GHz Xserve G5s approximately a year later. Ars notes that if System X were to be upgraded to current generation Xserves, the result would be a "8800-core monster that could push as much as 100 Tflops—at least in theory— coming close to Top 10 territory."

The school is using Mac Pros instead of Xserves because Xserves would require more robust cooling requirements; System X uses a hybrid liquid and forced air system that is housed in a separate building whereas the Mac Pro cluster would only require a conventional air-cooled room. Also, the additional PCI Express 2.0 slots provided by the Mac Pro were deemed desirable for use in other research projects.

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amac4me

macrumors 65816
Apr 26, 2005
1,303
0
Nice, I wish we could get some pics of the cluster to see those Mac Pro's all lined up!
 
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intel

macrumors regular
Aug 17, 2005
111
0
Sweeeeeet

With a system like that, I could download ALL the porn on the internet. That thing can probably simulate sex in space. I bet they are simulating the effect of copultion in zero gravity as we speak, followed by what it would be like on Mercury. Gee, Some reserach that would be. Barnie Stinsen is in charge of that department. He holds the record for the most theme park rides and the deapest underwater experience. Many have died trying new things. Thank God for the mac and it's research potential. Many lives could be saved.
 
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swagi

macrumors 6502a
Sep 6, 2007
896
110
I agree, but...

They should wait untill Nehalem before spending all that money.

Maybe that's part of the plan. Currently they are using G5s. Therefore they have to rewrite and reoptimize their code to Intel architecture.

So I guess as soon as they have finished that (build software that actually takes use of all those processor cores), they will use upgraded XServes.
 
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Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,926
1,236
Washington DC
^ They should save a lot of money and forgo the Mac Pro. :rolleyes:

They DID save a lot of money. Last time they did this their G5 supercomputer cost about $5 million. At that time most similar supercomputers were costing about $100 million.

But hey, I guess they should have asked you. Or maybe not, since you didn't actually make any suggestions here.
 
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longofest

Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
2,859
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Falls Church, VA
^ They should save a lot of money and forgo the Mac Pro. :rolleyes:

Read the Ars article and the guy explains his decision. I believe they have a set of criteria that they want to meet... they are probably in a position where FB-DIMM memory is preferable, dual-CPU quad core machine is preferable, and they want to use OSX so that they can use XGrid among all of the other Unix tools. When you have that kind of feature need, the Mac Pro really is well priced.
 
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intel

macrumors regular
Aug 17, 2005
111
0
They DID save a lot of money. Last time they did this their G5 supercomputer cost about $5 million. At that time most similar supercomputers were costing about $100 million.

But hey, I guess they should have asked you. Or maybe not, since you didn't actually make any suggestions here.



Oh SNAP! Good call there by a small white car with a built in ipod dock.
 
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longofest

Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
2,859
1,448
Falls Church, VA
Maybe that's part of the plan. Currently they are using G5s. Therefore they have to rewrite and reoptimize their code to Intel architecture.

So I guess as soon as they have finished that (build software that actually takes use of all those processor cores), they will use upgraded XServes.

Read article again... this cluster is not replacing System X (G5 cluster). It is a brand new cluster to run along-side System X.

A System X upgrade is in the preliminary stages.

but how snappy, exactly, does this make safari?

Think entire internet in 5 minutes. The fastest computer in the world is breaking the 1 minute barrier as we speak. :cool:
 
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intel

macrumors regular
Aug 17, 2005
111
0
but how snappy, exactly, does this make safari?

I think zippy is the word His Jobness would use.
Snappy... the small white car with the ipod contraption and a mac doc on the windshield, now he's snappy.
 
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thecartoonguy

macrumors 6502a
Jun 28, 2008
582
0
With a system like that, I could download ALL the porn on the internet. That thing can probably simulate sex in space. I bet they are simulating the effect of copultion in zero gravity as we speak, followed by what it would be like on Mercury. Gee, Some reserach that would be. Barnie Stinsen is in charge of that department. He holds the record for the most theme park rides and the deapest underwater experience. Many have died trying new things. Thank God for the mac and it's research potential. Many lives could be saved.

LOL
 
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thecartoonguy

macrumors 6502a
Jun 28, 2008
582
0
They DID save a lot of money. Last time they did this their G5 supercomputer cost about $5 million. At that time most similar supercomputers were costing about $100 million.

But hey, I guess they should have asked you. Or maybe not, since you didn't actually make any suggestions here.

Good money well spent. This is a very cool project.:apple:
 
Comment

demenas

macrumors member
Aug 11, 2006
48
1
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Read the Ars article and the guy explains his decision. I believe they have a set of criteria that they want to meet... they are probably in a position where FB-DIMM memory is preferable, dual-CPU quad core machine is preferable, and they want to use OSX so that they can use XGrid among all of the other Unix tools. When you have that kind of feature need, the Mac Pro really is well priced.

I read the article, and neither OS X, XGrid, or FB-DIMMS are mentioned at all.

Steve
 
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