What I'd like to see: Mac Mini 'Cluster Node'

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by D*I*S_Frontman, Jun 3, 2011.

  1. D*I*S_Frontman, Jun 3, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011

    D*I*S_Frontman macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Would this be a reasonable project for Apple? A version of the Mini specifically designed for use as a cluster node for project recording studios, video production studios, small scale science labs, schools, etc., any situation where multi-system processing is employed?

    Imagine the following machine:

    Mac Mini Server-esque chassis (no optical)
    but with easier HHD upgradability
    Engineered to take the heat of max performance (improved heat sinks/fans?)
    Quad core i7, max RAM 16 GB (8GB x 2)
    Thunderbolt and GBEthernet connectivity
    Simple IGPU (no need for yowsa-level graphics)

    Sell a basic 4GB RAM version for $999.

    Anyone who would want to add a node to their render farm could just slap one in any time via gigabit ethernet–-gigabit switches are dirt cheap. If the node needed additional drives with fast i/o, Thunderbolt externals would fit the bill.

    Could Apple do it? Sure.

    Should they? Would they?

    Discuss.
     
  2. mrklaw macrumors 68000

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    Jan 29, 2008
    #2
    whats stopping you doing that right now with suitable software like xgrid? and arguably with distributed computing you have less reliance on power per unit, as you can always just add more units.

    In that situation I think the mini's value comes from physical space used and idle power consumption. You can easily get a more powerful setup for less with traditional computers, but you won't get the same concentration of power in a small space. Plus the minis are probably stackable.
     
  3. D*I*S_Frontman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
  4. mr.steevo macrumors 65816

    mr.steevo

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    #5
    I know my recording buddies will slap me for saying this but if all you need is a recording rig then why not use a PC with the components you need (assuming you aren't using Logic). It's not like Win7 is an unstable OS.
     
  5. dolphin842, Jun 4, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011

    dolphin842 macrumors 65816

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    #6
    A product like this seems sufficiently geeky that Apple will leave it to the geeks (i.e. hackintosh crowd). If you had any doubt about Apple's trajectory, they did have an xServe cluster node years ago but you know what happened to those... :p

    If you are in need of mere number crunching, you can make a small ITX-sized quad-core hackintosh system for ~$500 (less if you have spare hard drive/case/etc lying around). Larger MicroATX or ATX designs would give you more options for cooling, but if you don't have a separate GPU, a 95W Sandy Bridge chip is completely manageable compared to the toasty Nehalem or NetBurst chips of old.
     
  6. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

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    #7
    Just put them in the basement to heat the house. :D . Not quite sure but do believe there is a Linux solution to actually do what you want. Just google it to see if you find anything. You could use a super micro setup that uses 4 12 core AMD processors. Think the highest ghz chip is 2.2, but that's 48 cores working under windows. Not sure of the newest bulldozer chips coming out that may exceed the number of cores. Still, 48 real cores in one box can do some serious work.
    http://www.supermicro.com/newsroom/pressreleases/2010/press100329_AMD_G34.cfm
     
  7. D*I*S_Frontman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    I am pretty committed to Logic as my DAW of choice, so that keeps me clear of using PCs for a main system. I would like to do more orchestral projects, however, and via the excellent program Vienna Ensemble Pro up to four systems can be connected via Gigabit Ethernet and play back huge orchestral libraries without a hiccup--across platforms. A lot of people who post at the EWQL forums have a tricked out Mac Pro as their main system and two or three PC "slaves" hooked up to it using VE Pro.

    I could be tempted to do something like that, seeing that a slave PC with lots of RAM would be cheaper than any Apple option, spec for spec (and all the disadvantages of a PC vs. Mac like OS, security, user friendliness, etc. would become irrelevant). For big sample libraries, RAM and drive i/o are the most important specs. A slave with 16 GB RAM and a fast SSD opens up a lot of possibilities.

    One thing that causes me some hesitation, though, is the fact that I do a decent amount of work with CPU-hog plug-ins and soft instruments (which orchestra sample users use far less of) and that all makes Macs more tempting by virtue of distributive computing within Logic. Having a Mini work as a sample library host and also double as a Logic node with whatever spare CPU cycles are left available could be the best option.
     
  8. chedda macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Yeah i'm in

    I'd love to see this happen. I am eyeing up the mini to add to my mac pro 12 core for maxwell render. Could apple become more modular ? Unfortunately i missed out on thunderbolt but gigabit ethernet will suffice i guess.I'd look at a linux rig possibly like someone suggested above with AMD micro cpu's before i'd entertain a hackintosh.It does seem like overkill to get a second 12 core mac pro to network render.

    The mini seems like the runt of the litter in the apple line up & i can't see this changing in the immediate future. It's compactness makes it limited for heat issued or will sandy bridge fix this ? Anyway a top end i7 is just not going to happen. Perhaps a re-design with the mac pro may open up more options for a modular system in the future, there was a rumour here about it being rack mounted & slimmed down.
     
  9. D*I*S_Frontman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I suppose the new Mac Mini Server (Mid-2011) for $999 is pretty close:

    i7 Quad

    TBolt

    16 GB RAM max (the guys from OWC will be confirming this soon and posting the upgrade as an option on their site--2x8GB sticks)

    Same HDD/SSD replacement steps as with previous model.
     
  10. FluJunkie macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 17, 2007
    #11
    Yeah, your spec sheet is pretty much the Mac Mini Server. I'm eyeing one.
     
  11. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

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    #12
    If 16GB will work in a mini, I'll bet allot of folks will update to a mini instead of a Mac pro. With TB, you will have a fast external connection for sata3 drives. Looking very promising.
     
  12. TheRdungeon macrumors 6502

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    Jul 21, 2011
    #13
    I'm just about to grab one of these to use as a main machine for Logic 9, tired of freezing tracks on my C2D MBP, takes ****ing ages to freeze too. I like to have projects with a lot of tracks playing while I try make a new beat etc so something like the Quad will have around 3x more power than the laptop I'm using. So cheap for serious power. And can load samples/save projects to the other HDD so no need for external for anything other than backup. Really looking forward to getting one
     
  13. chedda macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Yeah

    I am interested in adding this to my mac pro 12 core as a render node for maxwell. My only problems are, will there be a thunderbolt card available for the mac pro & how can i daisy chain multiple mini's i expect giga ethernet will suffice ? Also just how well cooled are these quad core machines being a server they are designed for 24/7 full bore use surely ?
     

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