Virginia Tech chooses Apple for cluster

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the US will build an Infiniband cluster using Apple Computer Inc.'s new dual-processor Power Mac computer with the 64-bit G5 processor, Virginia Tech said Tuesday.

When it is completed, the cluster of 1,100 nodes is expected to rank among the most powerful in the world, Virginia Tech said in a release. The university, which is in Blacksburg, has been working with Apple for several months to adapt the new Power Mac for its cluster, it said.

The Apple cluster will reside within Virginia Tech's Computing Center, and will be used by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at the university, Virginia Tech said.

More details will be released next week about the cluster, a professor at the university said Tuesday.

Mellanox Technologies Inc. supplied the I/O fabric, drivers, cards, and switches for the cluster, Virginia Tech said. Cisco Systems Inc. provided the Gigabit Ethernet switches, and Liebert, a division of Emerson Electric Co., supplied the cooling system.

Clustering technology is a popular choice of educational institutions that want to deploy supercomputing power without spending a great deal of money on a large machine. Apple's new G5 is said to offer excellent floating-point performance, a key requirement of many scientific computing applications.

Shipments of dual-processor Power Macs to regular customers were supposed to start in late August, but many users have reported on Apple enthusiast sites that their shipments have been delayed.

Apple said in a statement Tuesday that the new Power Macs are currently shipping, and the company is ramping shipments of the dual-processor model up to production volumes over the next two weeks.

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