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World's Fastest Macintosh Cluster

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the bushel-of-Apples dept.

Apple 165

gabeman-o writes: "The Grupo de Lasers e Plasmas has created the fastest Apple G4 cluster. The cluster runs on 16 Dual PowerPC G4/450, 32 processors, 12GB of RAM, .5TB of space, and Mac OS 9. Apparently, they have utilized the AppleSeed technology developed by UCLA. According to the website, the cluster will be used for simulating plasmas. Not too shabby!"

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Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#217346)

Well, due to the fact that the PPC7400 has an Altivec unit it is much faster than any comparable Intel processor.

The vector unit is only any good if the application has been compiled to take advantage of it, although granted computational fluid dynamics is vector intensive.

To get the same speed from Intel hardware you need something like 50 dual Pentium /// computers.

Ummm. That seems like a very optimistic estimate of how much the altivec unit will help.

And the price for rackmount computers is almost comparable with the Apple G4 dual 450.

For the price of one maxed out dual 450 (~$6-10K), I could get 4 or more (dual proc) linux 1U machines.

Second, gigabit ethernet is standard on those machines.

The transport bandwidth matters less in clustering than the transport LATENCY. For that you want something like Myrinet.

If they want to they can replace the 100baseT switch with a gigabit switch.

Which would only cost about another $5000 or more. Doubt me? Go look on eBay for "cisco catalyst gigabit". And again, ethernet is not suited for this application.

I'm not saying that this isn't a cool project, but by the same token, stating that Macs are the end all and be all of scientific computing is just wrong.

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (2)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 13 years ago | (#217348)

Most of the TCO of a computer is the support time and training, NOT the purchase price of the hardware/software.

For desktops, maybe. But clusters have completely different economics. The "training" cost is *zero* after the first (or second, depending how you look at it) machine. And the purchase price is perfectly linear, so it becomes a far more important concern.

Re:Document Mirror (1)

singularity (2031) | more than 13 years ago | (#217350)

I suppose they could not afford a Giganet switch. Those machines support 1000Base-T out of the box.

Interesting that they did not go with the G4/500MP, which was also available.

It looks like they added RAM to each of the machines, but kept the stock 30 gig hard drive.

I don't understand... (2)

Tet (2721) | more than 13 years ago | (#217353)

Why does everyone build clusters using normal desktop boxes? Rackmount clusters make so much more sense. Admittedly, I don't think the G4 comes in a rackmount configuration, but surely that makes other options (Sun Netra, Compaq DS10L or noname Intel boxen) more appropriate?

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (1)

MouseR (3264) | more than 13 years ago | (#217354)

Maybe if someone can come up with a cool-sounding name then folks will stop calling them clusters

How about Clumps?

Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (1)

MouseR (3264) | more than 13 years ago | (#217355)

Offtopic?!? WTF?

Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.

Studio Prices (1)

theLime (4908) | more than 13 years ago | (#217356)

While I know where you were coming with this, you're pretty wrong...

The G4 might replace the mixing board and tape/ADATs/HD, but to record you need a few other things. Examples:

* Microphones - A good studio will have many, some costing thousands of dollars.

* Facilities - As a rule, good recordings do not come out of the living room. Building a studio is expensive, and outfitting an existing building is not much cheaper.

* (Most Importantly) Knowledgeable Staff - A great engineer/producer team can make a decent record from a Tascam cassette recorder. Why don't they? Because these people already work for big studios, where they get paid what they're worth.

There are many great engineers in many great small studios out there. Mix did a report on about 10 of them a few months ago, and there are surely hundreds more, if not thousands.

My point is not "G4 Studios can't do it well" it's "Buying a G4 does not buy you a studio".


--

Re:Instead of calling it a cluster... (1)

CoffeeNowDammit (5514) | more than 13 years ago | (#217357)

What about calling it an orchard?

Actually, I was hoping that Apple, not 3Com, would get to rename Candlestick Park in SF. The "Apple Orchard" sounds a lot better than "3Com Park".

Then again, "Leprosy Field" sounds better than "3Com Park"..

".sig, .sig a .sog, .sig out loud, .sig out .strog"

Re:Apparently (1)

MaxwellsSilverHammer (10318) | more than 13 years ago | (#217359)

IANAKW (I Am Not A Karma Whore), but I have to say that was damn funny. LMAO. "It's funny 'cause it's true!" Homer Simpson. Disclaimer: Ok, OS X is not -that- slow, and I am using it as my primary OS on my Cube (w/ 320MB RAM), but it/GUI/Aqua does, currently at least, have an annoying molasses-like quality to it, which I hope and pray will be improved soon.

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (2)

K. (10774) | more than 13 years ago | (#217360)

Kindof a valid point, tho it's fairly obvious
that said cluck is just a bitter old VMS user.

K.
-

Re:I don't understand... (1)

Delphis (11548) | more than 13 years ago | (#217361)

2U of rackspace can mean a lot in some installations. On that page you gave though it talks about it being 6U tall.. jeez. For one Mac??

If you can get 6 machines in 6U opposed to 1 machine in 6U, guess what most people who are nuts about rackmounting as much kit as possible will choose? :> It's not hard to figure out.

--
Delphis

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

swb (14022) | more than 13 years ago | (#217364)

Check your math. The G4 listed is only 29% faster than the PIII listed, not 75% or 50% in terms of keys/sec.

If you're doing some kind of weird comparison based on keys/Mhz, it's 189% faster, but I'm not sure that's a comparison that makes any sense since you can't build systems that way.

A more interesting comparison would be keys/$ -- ie, how much cracking power can you buy for a given dollar amount. By a very crude measure, a 466Mhz G4 is $1600 and a 1Ghz Dell is closer to $1000.

If you have $5k to spend, the Dell buys you 28,432,490 keys/sec and the Mac buys you 22,166,475 keys/sec. The Dell system would then give you 5,686 keys/$, the Mac 4,618 keys/$.

Since nobody does these projects for $5k or desktop machines, I'd imagine that the performance gap would actually grow substantially in favor of Intel hardware for the same money spent.

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (2)

Spruitje (15331) | more than 13 years ago | (#217367)


Wouldn't it be cheaper to do this with a bunch of PC's in stead? Not as pretty but it's someones tax dollars that pay for these...


Well, due to the fact that the PPC7400 has an Altivec unit it is much faster than any comparable Intel processor.
To get the same speed from Intel hardware you need something like 50 dual Pentium /// computers.
And the price for rackmount computers is almost comparable with the Apple G4 dual 450.
Second, gigabit ethernet is standard on those machines.
If they want to they can replace the 100baseT switch with a gigabit switch.

Re:I don't understand... (1)

alfredo (18243) | more than 13 years ago | (#217368)

though they may not be made for racks, those handles make moving them very easy. Their whole design is good for heat dissapation. the handles hold it off the ground, allowing for airflow under each computer. I remember them saying the design is good for rackmounting, but I would have to see how it is done.

Re:I don't understand... (1)

alfredo (18243) | more than 13 years ago | (#217369)

It's those marathon clusters that are powering the independent studios in Nashville. Screw Sony and the other mega studios. You can set up a G4 recording studio for less than what a recording session would cost. the sound quality is just as good too. You can also do the cover art, and burn the discs on the same machine. then when it is time for MTV or TNN, you can edit your video.

I noted the boxes in the feature artical were running OS9 and OSX.

Computers can give us the power unless someone like MS takes it away.

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

IsleOfView (23825) | more than 13 years ago | (#217372)

Maybe things have changed recently....Several years ago I had to support an art department that used Macs (Then on a 7.x version of MacOS, we upgraded to 8.x while I was there). Compared to the 2 artists who used NT Workstation, the Macs bombed all the time. The Macs were definitely faster on the same apps, but the cost was much higher, plus we were constantly wasting time trying to get extensions "just so", contorting our bodies to reset the PROM, etc....

Crap! Why'd we use plexiglass? (1)

slurry47 (27097) | more than 13 years ago | (#217373)

Sure those little shelves look cool - but how do you think those guys felt when the needed opaque mouse pads for their brand new OPTICAL mice?

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

Jay Carlson (28733) | more than 13 years ago | (#217374)

I don't think metrics of support time and training directly translate to this kind of cluster. These machines are being used in an unconventional way; you don't really have to worry about somebody screwing up the extensions/dlls/shared libraries on just one of the boxes, for instance.

What's more important to them is the cost of development of software for the cluster. And if they've got enough Mac weenies around to argue for the Apple hardware solution, they probably have the talent and dedication to make it work---so it's probably a pretty cheap solution. This is also why x86 Linux Beowulf clusters work well in some environments...people are excited and knowledgable about a technology that they're recommending.

As far as the TCO numbers go, I'd like to see a recent citation. Yes, it's my intuition that MacOS is cheaper to support than Windows, but most of the numbers people usually quote are traceable back to a study done in 1996, comparing, what, MacOS 7.5 to Windows 95.

BTW, my sources in IT departments say that upgrading boxes from W9x to W2K has cut trouble ticket counts dramatically.

(I'm nominally a Linux weenie, but I gave in and ordered a used iMac because I miss the NeXT. Anybody else in the same boat?)

.. parent makes good points (5)

victim (30647) | more than 13 years ago | (#217375)

Sorry, I got ranty on this. To summarize, the parent article makes some good points, the previous replies are too extreme in their criticism. I supply better anecdotal evidence than them. :-)

For CFD the altivec units will be heavily used, it is correct to use them for comparing speed to PIIIs. There may be a case where it matches 50 dual PIIs, but that sounds extreme.

I just bought three lowend Gateway 2U rackmount boxes. They come in at ~$2200 for a single 800MHz PIII which will be slower than the dual 533MHz mac at ~$2500. That certainly meets `almost comparable'.

Neither of these machines are very cheap computers. There definately is a quality problem when you get into very cheap computers. There are applications for them, but if your diagnostic time is worth much, then I believe it pays to buy better hardware. (Plus you don't bleed when you have to open them up and add memory or drives. Once you get above the nasty low end machines they take time to deburr the stampings. My brother runs a metal working factory and their worst injury this year has been an IT guy that stumbled while holding a cheap PC and sliced several fingers to the bone.)

The new Macs do come with gigabit ethernet (although I don't think those old 450s had gigabit) and an OS. That gateway price is a bare machine. I put Linux on `for free', but the 2.4 kernel series (which I needed for iptables) had bugs in the interrupt routing for the chipset and it took me weeks of effort to get it all worked out into a stable configuration (manifested as a AIC-7xxx problem, took a while to find the interrupt controller problem). I knew I should have bought a 4th scratch box.

Gigabit ethernet hubs are still $250/port, but that will come down quickly. I remember when I bought a Powermac and thought it was just plain silly to put a 10/100 adapter in it, only servers could afford to have 100mbit ports. In 12 months all my new hubs where 100mbit.

I've got loads of Apples and loads of PCs. The apple hardware failure rate is less than half our PC hardware failure rate. Depending on the cost of a failure (in terms of ruined work, lost work, diagnosis, and repair) I do lean toward Macs because of their better reliability. (And before we get into a flame war on your reliable PC... I'm sure there are reliable models of PCs, but I need a vendor I can count on to make every model I might buy reliable. I can't look at historical data and say "look, here is a model that was made two years ago that was a good one" because I can't buy that anymore. (And yes, I own a PB5300, I know the counter argument, but Apple fixes it for free whenever it breaks so thats not so bad.))

I have a lab (2)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 13 years ago | (#217376)

I have access to a lab here on my campus of 16 Dual-450s and 16 500Mhz G4's. I bet that would make one helluva RC5 cracking machine. :)

--

Re:One day to set up (5)

marcsiry (38594) | more than 13 years ago | (#217377)

Although Mac OS9 doesn't natively support dual processors, application support for duals can be added via a system extension.

Several Mac OS9 apps are specifically coded to use the second processor... Adobe AfterEffects, Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D, and other graphically intensive apps. Users of those applications appreciate all the cycles they can get.

Since the second processor is dedicated to the single application using it at the time, you usually see pretty high effeciencies for a kludge-- 190% speed increases in those specific apps.

Apple has flirted with duals since 1996's 9600 MP, but it wasn't until OSX that they really made sense.

Re:If they have the money to waste... (1)

scxw65d (50032) | more than 13 years ago | (#217378)


Noone would ever defend that bastard mouse.


Adam

Obviously its... (1)

TheHornedOne (50252) | more than 13 years ago | (#217379)

A massively parallel distributed "BUSHEL" of Apples.

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

tak amalak (55584) | more than 13 years ago | (#217380)

In its day a dual processor 450MHz G4 went for $2500 or less. Even maxing out the RAM to 1.5GB and adding SCSI drives (which they didn't do) you would still be well under $4000 not the $6K-$10 you quoted. That's just FUD. For $2500 now you can get dual 533MHz with 133MHz bus and $1000 with get you 3 good quality 512MB PC133 DIMMS.

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

tak amalak (55584) | more than 13 years ago | (#217381)

I'm sorry but you're not a very good mac admin then. And neither was the admin at the job I am at now. But all our machines now are running spot on with almost no crashes for the last year. All it takes is a little understanding of how MacOS works and making sure that new applications you install are compatible with other apps and the OS. At that point you either need to install the necessary patches or update the offending apps. Also don't let people install just anything on their Macs. Use Multiple users to create restricted user accounts to prevent that. And why in good God's earth are you always reseting the PRAM? Excercising your fingers? I find it useful every once in a while to rebuild the desktop, but very rarely. Restoring the PRAM is a last ditch effort when you are having problems with Monitors and conflicting resolutions or Appletalk troubleshooting. Other than that you are wasting your time.

Re:Apple Rackmounts? (1)

kriegsman (55737) | more than 13 years ago | (#217382)

See Marathon Computer [marathoncomputer.com] . They have a pretty wide range of rack-a-Mac equipment.

-Mark

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (2)

bnenning (58349) | more than 13 years ago | (#217383)

Good point and all... but how exactly do you save money by buy a SECOND CPU that the OS (Mac OS 9) doesn't even see... won't single proc mac's or an OS that could use them be cheaper?

Classic Mac OS can use multiple processors, it's just that the applications have to be specifically written to use them, which the "clustering" software here apparently is.

I guarnette any admin that is worth his weight can keep 16 X86/Sparc/Alpha boxen running as stable as 16 Mac boxen...

Sure, but if it only takes the admin half the time to manages the Macs, that means he has more time to do other work, or that you can double the number of Macs without hiring another admin.

Not for running mac software... (2)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 13 years ago | (#217384)

I doubt that. But even if your premise is correct you'd have to add the time for rewriting all their software for Windows or Linux. Let's not even start thinking about if some of that is commercial software.

You'd have to set up a case factory... (3)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 13 years ago | (#217385)

...since you can't buy these machines in any other casings that tower or cube. I doubt that it pays off for 64 machines.

How much extra does the case cost? It's just a few pieces of cheap plastic. And the extra features (handles & door) makes it a lot easier to work with than the standard beige box.

I see a lot of posts complaining about the cases, of all things. I don't think this crowd is really upset about the cost. I think it's that they just can't stand functional things being beautiful. And that's very sad.

Not suprising... (5)

nutty (70104) | more than 13 years ago | (#217386)

When I competed in a sceince fair [njrsf.org] back in March, amoung other awards I won the "Princeton Plasma Physics Award", an award sponsored by the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) here in New Jersey, and as a winner I was given a free tour of the facilities. For those of you who don't know, PPPL is "The hottest place in the Universe", lying at the forefront of Nuclear Power and Plasma research...very cool. [pppl.gov]

So I was going around the facilites, visiting their $125,000,000 tokamac's and torsotrons and all this crazy equipment (very cool science plamsa physics is, too much to elaborate on here), and I get to the control room, from which they run all their Data Acquisition (DaQ) and such to monitor the expirements, and the room is filled with .... MACS? The engineer giving me the tour explained that it was in the personal interest of most of the researchers. Yes, there were Sun's and other UNIX boxes scattered on the control room floor, but I would look closely, and sure enough, amounst the three or so monitors at each workstation, one of them was hooked up to a mac. There were g4's and g3's scattered all across the floor. Wack.

So yea, Mac's are playing a key role in plasma research, helping achieve effecient fusion, one step at a time.

For another cool plamsa physics project (unrelated to mac's), check out Garrett Young's ISEF [sciserv.org] project Quasi-Elliptical Torsatron - A Study of Induced Radial Electric Fields and Plasma Turbulence [tripod.com] . He is a senior in high school and on the cutting edge of plasma physics research. Quite the talented individual.

Not the fastest g4 cluster. not even close. (2)

gonar (78767) | more than 13 years ago | (#217387)

my company [mc.com] has several g4 systems an order of magnitude more powerful (320 CPUs) both in house for testing and in customers hands. and they only eat up 9u in a 19" rack.

and as far as ppc architecture clusters go, just about any IBM RS-6000-SP2 system is more powerful, and probably takes up less space too.

um, no, you're wrong (1)

gqgreg (84354) | more than 13 years ago | (#217388)

I'm very proud of the way a G4 looks, and show it to people quite often, despite it's being shoved under my desk, thankyouverymuch. It's called (say it with me now) A-E-S-T-H-E-T-I-C ... !
---

Propaganda control (1)

gqgreg (84354) | more than 13 years ago | (#217389)

WTF? Are you implying that OS X takes a long time to boot up? I have a G4/350, and both OS 9.1 and OS X boot up rather quickly. It takes my windoze machine at work MUCH longer to boot up. You want to talk about bloated OSes and software, look to Redmond, WA.
---

The celebration (1)

skrowl (100307) | more than 13 years ago | (#217395)

"Wooo hoo!! Look at how fast our Mac cluster is!! Now we can run... Oh wait... what the hell are we going to do with this thing?"
____________________
Remember, not all /. users hate Windows or think Microsoft is out to get them!

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (2)

Dr_Cheeks (110261) | more than 13 years ago | (#217396)

You mean now that some new piece of whizzy kit gets released we've got to speculate what a Beowulf "distributed parallel computing array" of them would run like? Maybe if someone can come up with a cool-sounding name then folks will stop calling them clusters : )

Re:One day to set up (1)

Rand Race (110288) | more than 13 years ago | (#217397)

...maybe you can code an application by hand under a OS that using more than one proc even if the host OS doesn't support it?

Bingo! Photoshop supports multiple processors under OS9 but it must be coded at the application level.

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (1)

Rand Race (110288) | more than 13 years ago | (#217398)

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (Score:1) by jbarnett (budec@SPAMINACANqwest.net) on Thursday May 17, @08:25AM EST (#72) (User #127033 Info) http://geekweb.org Proposed terms of "cluster of apple computers" apple tree

I suppose one that developed AI would be an Apple Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Re:WTF is with all the Cray comparisons? (2)

Rand Race (110288) | more than 13 years ago | (#217399)

100 Macs in a cluster= ~$250,000
6 CPU Cray T3E= $630,000

I can't even find a quote on a 32 proc T3E much less a 100(128). Nothing realistic price-wise here.

Re:Benchmarks and G3/G4 speed (1)

Master Bait (115103) | more than 13 years ago | (#217400)

I'll be glad when every bit of debug code is removed from OSX to help remove its sluggishness.

Gosh! I've been waiting since NeXTStep 1.0 for them to remove all that debugging code.


blessings,

Re:Apparently (1)

sracer9 (126645) | more than 13 years ago | (#217403)

That sounds like a bit of an exaggeration. I just turned on my G4 400 w/ OSX last night and it's almost ready for me to use it already.

Re:Benchmarks and G3/G4 speed (1)

sracer9 (126645) | more than 13 years ago | (#217404)

I use a G4 400 w/ 192MB Ram at work. It's hard to make accurate/fair comparisons, but the closest thing I've got is SETI. Prior to the 3.x series of SETI clients, my G4 was approximately 50% faster than my PII 400 w/ 384MB Ram at home. It took ~6 hours to do a unit while my P2 average around 9. I'm pretty sure that with the 3.x clients it remained with that comfortable lead. I'm now running OSX at work, and with it's overhead, my PII running Linux feels snappier. I think the SETI advantage is still there for the Mac, but I'll be glad when every bit of debug code is removed from OSX to help remove its sluggishness. I haven't used any apps to keep track of SETI wu's now on the mac side, but I've got a buddy that runs a dual G4 533 that processes two units every ~12 hours (Approx. 6 hours per unit.) I have a Dell P3 1000 w/ 256MB Ram running Linux that averages 7h 20m per unit at the moment.

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (1)

jbarnett (127033) | more than 13 years ago | (#217407)


Proposed terms of "cluster of apple computers"

AppleSauce
Bushle
Basket of apples
Apple Pie
Apple Juice
Rainbow color array
box of apple jacks
transparent wall
apple tree
Cowboy Neal

Re:One day to set up (2)

jbarnett (127033) | more than 13 years ago | (#217408)


Are you referecing the fact that MacOS 9 doesn't have Dual proc support... do they realize the second cpu (and the cash used to get that extra cpu) is just sitting doing nothing but burning up (the cash) and causing heat (the proc)?

It's like running a dual proc P3 and using Windows 95/98. Atleast go with something that has dual proc support like MacOS X, Windows NT or Linux... if your going to play with 2 procs.

No, this isn't a flame/troll... just wondering what there logic is behind this... maybe you can code an application by hand under a OS that using more than one proc even if the host OS doesn't support it?


Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (2)

jbarnett (127033) | more than 13 years ago | (#217409)


Good point and all... but how exactly do you save money by buy a SECOND CPU that the OS (Mac OS 9) doesn't even see... won't single proc mac's or an OS that could use them be cheaper?

Last time I looked apple didn't have a "buy one get one free" deal on their CPUs

Also we are talking Professinal Admins here, any decent admin should be able to handle a 16 boxen, no matter want the hardware/software is as long as that is the admin's "grove"...

I guarnette any admin that is worth his weight can keep 16 X86/Sparc/Alpha boxen running as stable as 16 Mac boxen...


Re:I don't understand... (2)

evilviper (135110) | more than 13 years ago | (#217410)

It originally started as people using stock desktops because they were cheap and abundant. Rack mountables aren't usually sold at swap meets and pawn shops so the desktops were easier to get, and cheaper. Today, though, using normal desktops has lost all meaning since people actually are buying new desktops while the stripped-down rack-mounts with simillar specs would be cheaper.

---=-=-=-=-=-=---

Apparently (5)

evilviper (135110) | more than 13 years ago | (#217416)

It's not that they're trying to set a record, just getting enough power to try and run OS X

---=-=-=-=-=-=---

Document Mirror (5)

evilviper (135110) | more than 13 years ago | (#217417)

Well after 5 hits, the server is barely responsive, so here's the page before the server completely dies:

Researchers at the Grupo de Lasers e Plasmas (GoLP) achieved the first milestone of the GoLP simulation program on Extreme Plasma Physics: the installation of the first Macintosh G4 cluster in Europe, called epp (or ep2), which is based on the AppleSeed [ucla.edu] paradigm developed at UCLA by Viktor Decyk et al. The epp cluster is capable of delivering over 50 GFlops of peak power, and it is based on 16 Dual PowerPC G4/450, 32 processors, 12 Gigabytes of RAM, 0.5 Terabyte of hard disk space, running Mac OS 9, over 100 Mb/s Fast Ethernet, switched by one Asanté Intracore 8000. This is the fastest Macintosh-based cluster in the World. The installation and set up of this cluster took less than 1 day (including moving the machines to the computer room, unpacking the machines, and making all the cables!), and it did not require previous knowledge of networking: a one-page recipe for Mac OS clusters can be found here (AppleSeed website) [ucla.edu] (Portuguese translation coming soon). This "supercomputer for the rest of us" will be used for the numerical simulation of plasmas, novel plasma particle acceleration schemes using ultra intense lasers, and relativistic shocks in astrophysics. This work supported by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia [fct.mct.pt] . More info available soon (also in Portuguese), as well as science using epp. For more information also contact Luís O.Silva [mailto] (+351 21 8419 336).

---=-=-=-=-=-=---

One day to set up (1)

Lozzer (141543) | more than 13 years ago | (#217419)

Thats pretty neat. Would a Linux cluster on no name x386 harware be cheaper (in terms of hardware). Would it take longer to set up for users of a similar ilk. Would this time cancel out any benefit in the cheaper hardware?

THIS IS NOT FLAMEBAIT (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 13 years ago | (#217420)

Yes, there are many reasons as to why x86 processors do almost everything faster.

Just to name two:

1. Memory Bandwidth.

2. Bus Design

Plus, the athlon really is kind of a math monster

http://www.wpi.edu/~cmorgan/cpu_compare.html

Check this out. There also are some good ars technica articles on the matter. But they do not provide benchmarks.

Basically, Athlon 600MHZ and above is faster than G4 450MHZ. My T-bird 1Gig is faster than G4 whatever, I am fairly confident ;)

There goes my karma ;(

Re:If they have the money to waste... (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 13 years ago | (#217421)

I'm afraid it is you who is mistaken about a great many things........

Check out some benchmarks before you display your ignorance for all to see.

Don't just mark this as flamebait. Read and reply. (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 13 years ago | (#217422)

Well, techincally, his statement is true . The reasons as to why this may not matter are what could potentially be significant, but it seems safe enough to say that with 3 to 4 times as many processor cycles even the inferior (essentially) 64-bit SSE(SSE2,3DNOW,3DNOW+,whatever), would have a leg up on the more advanced (but not radically so) 128-bit Altivec.

So what he says is correct, me thinks

Don't just mark this as flamebait, why not argue the (somewhat) salient point.

Get a clue before you hide his words

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

dmelomed (148666) | more than 13 years ago | (#217425)

Actually, for this particular application (plasma physics) Ethernet is fine and well. The code is not so communication intensive at all. Appleseed could benefit from a better TCP/IP stack though.

I actually had a chance to run Aplleseed on an occasion. The Fortran application written for Cray was ported using Absoft F90 Fortran. Unoptimized, its performance was 1/3 that of an 21164 Alpha per processor per node. Those were G3 350 machines at the time. It was fun.

Re:Not suprising... (1)

dmelomed (148666) | more than 13 years ago | (#217426)

I actually had a chance to work in the NSTX control room with a test Appleseed cluster (as part of my co-op). It was fun. I think the reason they like Macs so much is very low maintenance. Also they've used them traditionally. I remember many had very old Macs in their offices. Too bad the Fortran code that ran so very well on Cray ran much slower on G3 350 Macs.

Re:Fast Ethernet? (1)

dmelomed (148666) | more than 13 years ago | (#217427)

You don't need a lot of bandwidth for plasma simulations. Just a lot of FPU horsepower.

Re:Document Mirror (1)

cplater (155482) | more than 13 years ago | (#217438)

No wonder it's having problems, according to netcraft [netcraft.com] it's running SAMBAR on NT4/Win98.

WTF is with all the Cray comparisons? (3)

AndyChrist (161262) | more than 13 years ago | (#217440)

On the Appleseed page, there are graphs in which they usually include the Cray T3E 900...including "single processor performance." I'm sorry, but...huh? When have you ever heard of a T3E with just ONE processor? Or 4 or 8 for that matter?

Okay, I get that they're trying to make it look better by comparing it with something completely out of it's league, to turn people who would just be using a bit of time on some big iron to having their own personal power playground...but lets be more fair, and see some stats comparing 100 Mac clusters to 100 CPU Crays. More realistic.

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

mallie_mcg (161403) | more than 13 years ago | (#217441)

Poster A:Well, due to the fact that the PPC7400 has an Alt ivec unit it is much faster than any comparable Intel processor. To get the same speed from Intel hardware you need something like 50 dual Pentium /// computers.

PosterB:Who moderates these comments up when they are completely false and incorrect babble only believed by .1% of all computer users (because they like to make their art "pretty")? Everything the guy said is wrong. And obviously wrong.


I would like to point out the following FACTS:
For certain well written applications where there are good developers the AltiVEC unit of the PPC 7400 (G4) shit canes all over the PIII. Allow me to post some results from the distributed.net live stats database: http://n0cgi.distributed.net/speed/
Disclaimer: I have selected Only a FEW of the RELEVANT results on the site, please feel free to verrify what i have posted.

Power PC 7400 G4- 450- 7,388,825 keys/sec.
Intel Pentium III- 1000- 5,686,498 keys/sec
AMD K7 Athlon Thunderbird- 1600- 5,662,963 keys/sec [NOTE: this is a single proc machine!]

This tells me that at RC5-64 cracking the G4 is faster than the PIII (not 50x though, approx 50%) The other thing is that the G4 draws what ~7 Watts? the PIII ~35-55 Watts? (i honestly dont know, but i have a feeling that this is ball park). Dont forget that power costs money, and in South Australia, it looks like depending on who you are you could be facing 300% price hikes on it!


How every version of MICROS~1 Windows(TM) comes to exist.

Re:Apple Rackmounts? (1)

decesare (167184) | more than 13 years ago | (#217442)

I've read an article [theregister.co.uk] on the Register containing some speculation regarding Apple rackmounts and OS X Server 2.0. The source of the Reg's article came in turn from a similar article at ThinkSecret.

Re:Where's the fp? (1)

sethgecko (167305) | more than 13 years ago | (#217443)

should be roughly 8 mkeys/sec per machine (a little less, usually). multiply by 16 and you have your answer. 128megakeys/sec. not too shabby. my single athlon 1Ghz only gets about 4.

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (3)

iphayd (170761) | more than 13 years ago | (#217447)

>Wouldn't it be cheaper to do this with a bunch of
>PC's in stead? Not as pretty but it's someones
>tax dollars that pay for these...

This myth has gone on enough. Every TCO study around shows that Macs are cheaper than PCs. Most of the TCO of a computer is the support time and training, NOT the purchase price of the hardware/software.

Macs require less support staff, for more computers. If I recall correctly, Intel has one IT person for every 30 computers. Except in their graphics dept, where they have 1 support person for all 300 Macs.

Because the Mac's interface is more standard across most applications, when you train on one app, that training can be utilized in other apps. This means that you get better training than if you have to train for every app.

It was recently figured that the difference averages between $400-1000 per machine, per year.

If you want to save your company $, you'd switch to Macs, but noone will do that, because it would cost (at least) half of your IT support their jobs.

Re:You'd have to set up a case factory... (1)

sensate_mass (171138) | more than 13 years ago | (#217448)

I don't care what they look like. All I know is that G4 towers make lousy footrests.

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (2)

gerddie (173963) | more than 13 years ago | (#217449)

Well, i'm not a native english speaker, thus i have to look up the word cluster in the dictionary, to get its real meaning. And this tells me, a cluster is nothing more then an amassment of something, and in this case of apples :)

OTOH there is some saying here at my place: "Fremdwörter immer falsch verwenden ..." use foreign words always in the wrong sense ... - 'cos everybody's doing so.
:-)

But Wait!! (2)

UID30 (176734) | more than 13 years ago | (#217451)

How can they say that this is the worlds fastest Mac cluster when they haven't benchmarked my cluster of 2,000 derelict Mac 68020s strung together with Appletalk and Duct Tape??

Re:One day to set up (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 13 years ago | (#217452)

You could save money by not wasting your dough on flashy-stylish see-thru' cases with Apple logos on. Look at the picture - the machines are abutting side-to-side. You _don't_ need see through cases or Apple logos if you can't even _see_ the sides.

It's nice to see small G4 clusters put together, as Alphas and x86 seem to have been having all the fun in recent years. However, I get the feeling it was done more for the press (nothing wrong in being first) than for the practicality of it.

FP.
--

Re:Maybe I Just Don't Get It (1)

pressman (182919) | more than 13 years ago | (#217454)

Well the programs they're running are probably AltiVec and MP optimized.
---------------------------

In the future (1)

RQ (196411) | more than 13 years ago | (#217456)

Some sad, old PC "Fragger" will be trying to justify one of these to play the latest 3D Cardboard effects game from ID. Quake XIII:

"Wow! Now you can actually see the pimples on the characters in REAL, ULTRA, MEGA, GENUINE 3D, as supposed to fake ass crap that GeForce II produces now."

"You cannot play a decent game nowadays which does not run at 2000 FPS, with full ray-tracing."

Rod.

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (5)

grammar nazi (197303) | more than 13 years ago | (#217457)

Did you notice the following statement at the bottom:
Note: To build a Beowulf, a Linux-based cluster, we think the following 230-page book is an excellent introduction: T. L. Sterling, J. Salmon, D. J. Becker, and D. F. Savarese,How to Build a Beowulf, [MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA, 1999
I think they are making fun of the difficulty of building a Beowulf cluster since they refer to the 250 page book at the end of their single page OS 9 clustering guide.

Fast Ethernet? (3)

Ando[evilmedic] (199537) | more than 13 years ago | (#217458)

Why the hell they're using Fast Ethernet is beyond me. If you're going to shell out the money for 16 dual G4s, why wouldn't you spend the extra money and install gigabit networking? Or does 100Mbps suit the purpose fine.

- Ando
You are the weakest link, goodbye.

Re:One day to set up (1)

l-ascorbic (200822) | more than 13 years ago | (#217459)

No, if you look at the right-hand monitor in the picture, you can see they're running OS X. It has the default desktop picture, and you can see the dock at the bottom.

Instead of calling it a cluster... (5)

glebite (206150) | more than 13 years ago | (#217460)

What about calling it an orchard?

The worlds prettiest cluster (4)

KarmaPolice (212543) | more than 13 years ago | (#217461)

Wouldn't it be cheaper to do this with a bunch of PC's in stead? Not as pretty but it's someones tax dollars that pay for these...

Re:386 cluster not cheaper (1)

smartfart (215944) | more than 13 years ago | (#217464)

What about using Sun Blades? They can be clustered, can't they? You can pick them up starting at a grand.

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#217469)

Good point and all... but how exactly do you save money by buy a SECOND CPU that the OS (Mac OS 9) doesn't even see... won't single proc mac's or an OS that could use them be cheaper?

An AC already said this but to make the point at +1 -- MacOS has (kind of) supported extra processors for years, I think since System 7. It requires a system extension and only affects apps that are coded to take advantage of it, but it does work pretty effectively. Photoshop and other CPU-intensive apps generally can use it and I'm sure the software used here can, too.

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

Re:I don't understand... (1)

3G (220614) | more than 13 years ago | (#217470)

It's done like this [innovativemusic.com.au] .

Some cluck at MacNN (4)

3G (220614) | more than 13 years ago | (#217471)

"While I think this is a sweet application of technology, it continuously galls me to see the misuse of the term cluster when applied to distributed parallel computing arrays such as AppleSeed or Beowulf. These are not clusters! There is no distributed lock manager present, no hardware-level device sharing (as opposed to software-level file sharing a la AFT, SMB, or NFS), no means of transparently starting, controlling, and stopping any process (not just those written to a custom API) on any node from any other node. While an excellant and usefull technology, this has a long way to go before it could be considered a true cluster..."

Re:I don't understand... (5)

3G (220614) | more than 13 years ago | (#217472)

The G4s that Apple sells don't come in a rackmount config, but you can put them into one [maloca.com] pretty easily.

Re:You'd have to set up a case factory... (2)

Voltas (222666) | more than 13 years ago | (#217473)

UM... wait. I've been a PC fan forever but I had to work at a Graphics comany that (you guessed it ) had MACs. Have you ever seen the workings of the strange and lovely towers on MACs? theres a funny looking green button on the top....push it the whole thing opens into 3 panels filled with all the hardware. Your motherbooard is ope and right in front of you the drives are on the right with the wiring all neetly placed in rail. other stuff and card all all organized around eachother. RAM, CPU, CARD, AND DRIVES are EASY to add and replace! It realy beats the pants of any lame PC layout for a box. I-MACs are a differant thing all together and I've never opened one.

Re:One day to set up (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#217476)

Were they really the first? What? to cluster OS X, or to use MAC Hardware in a cluster? I agree it's a neat deal, buy I'd also have to agree they probably did it for the press.


--

Amazing stuff. (1)

NoDoZ (232151) | more than 13 years ago | (#217477)

The combined 14.4ghz of processing power is cool and all, but what I want to know is how they managed to get optical mouse to work on that plexiglass shelf. Now that's amazing.

Re:I don't understand... (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 13 years ago | (#217479)

Or you can replace the stock handles on the G4 case with hardware from Marathon Computer [irack.com] , who has an actual photo of their product on their site, I might add.

Sure, it takes up 2U additional of rack space, but it's a lot less hassle than transplanting the guts into someone else's case.

~Philly

Maybe I Just Don't Get It (1)

CrazyLegs (257161) | more than 13 years ago | (#217481)

This is gonna sound anti-geek, but this just sounds like technology for the sake of technology. I think it's cool and fun that a bushel'o'Macs have been clustered to run real fast, but I have to wonder 'why'?

Is there some benefit in using this solution vs. the umpteen other (cheaper, maybe better?) clustering solutions that exist today? Just sounds like a misuse of time/effort/money to me.

Rebuttals anyone?

386 cluster not cheaper (2)

Proud Geek (260376) | more than 13 years ago | (#217482)

You'd need so many of them that the overhead of putting a power supply on each machine would bump the cost way above that of the Apple hardware.

If you used P3/ P4/ Athlon machines, then you'd have a much cheaper cluster.

Re:Apple Rackmounts? (1)

Fat Casper (260409) | more than 13 years ago | (#217483)

I'll wait until Mac OS X Server 2.0 Version C Mark IV Mod 2 Type L comes out.

Re:Fast Ethernet? (1)

gabriel_aristos (265988) | more than 13 years ago | (#217486)

Especially considering that new G4s come with Gigabit copper NICs. They could have spent a bit more money and bought a better switch.

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

strictnein (318940) | more than 13 years ago | (#217487)

Well, due to the fact that the PPC7400 has an Altivec unit it is much faster than any comparable Intel processor. To get the same speed from Intel hardware you need something like 50 dual Pentium /// computers.

Who moderates these comments up when they are completely false and incorrect babble only believed by .1% of all computer users (because they like to make their art "pretty")? Everything the guy said is wrong. And obviously wrong.

I mean really...
"And the price for rackmount computers is almost comparable with the Apple G4 dual 450." Uhmm... no, sorry.

Re:I don't understand... (1)

anno1602 (320047) | more than 13 years ago | (#217490)

Because standard PC HW is cheaper than rackmount stuff, so if you have the space, that's more power for less.

Re:Fast Ethernet? (1)

reynolda (322597) | more than 13 years ago | (#217491)

I think the reason is that the networking libraries in Mac OS 9 (Open Transport) don't give you the full benefit of Gigabit speed. Only in moving up to Mac OS X would you be able to make full efficient use of this pipe.

Also, in terms of a ratio, Gigabit costs more per port in comparison with 100BaseT, for the speed benefit it provides.

Re:One day to set up (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#217494)

They'd have to be running MacOS 10 to make that claim. This appears to be running OS IX. So it's sorta like a cluster of Windows 3.1 machines (running on 286s- i.e. not in '386 enhanced mode').

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#217495)

due to the fact that the PPC7400 has an Altivec unit it is much faster than any comparable Intel processor.

I thought it was because of the translucent case. Oh, and the 'Industrial Design' (or has that buzz phrase gone out of style now?)

Re:Apple Rackmounts? (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#217496)

Can I rack mount my SE/30s? (they run NetBSD)

Re:One day to set up (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#217497)

The irony for a long time was that MacOS was the only OS running on PPC that couldn't make use of the SMP hooks in the PowerPC processors.

My point also had to do with the lack of preemptive multitasking in MacOS. That's where the comparison to Windows 3.1 on a '286 (pre '386 enhanced mode') comes from. Though my understanding is that they bolted that on the side in later pre-10 versions of MacOS (similar to the way enhanced mode was bolted onto the side of Windows 3.1).

Re:You'd have to set up a case factory... (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#217498)

Naw. There are third party vendors who sell bolt-on siderails (complete with Macintax **) to make that tower G4 into a singularly ugly rackspace mount.

(**Macintax is that extra %30-60 that vendors know they can charge Mac users for any add-on accessories. I used to have a muffin fan in a cheap plastic shroud that sold for hundreds of dollars new because it was the cooling fan for a Mac Plus)

one question (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#217499)

Amoeba ??

Re:The worlds prettiest cluster (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#217500)

Your statistics are either skewed or they're five year old numbers. There are so few commercial sites running any significant amount of Mac hardware anymore that you're either citing figures from five years ago (before all the Mac hardware got pushed into the dumpsters) or you're reporting stats from a miniscule sample size.

Re:.. parent makes good points (2)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#217502)

Once you get above the nasty low end machines they take time to deburr the stampings.

So you put your clone hardware in the $79 case instead of the $39 case. Okay, that's $40 of a price difference. What accounts for the $800 difference on the invoice of your 'Higher Quality System'? The color badge on the brand name box? The Television Commercial? The full page magazine ads??

Apple Rackmounts? (1)

Tachys (445363) | more than 13 years ago | (#217504)

I believe apple plans to release Mac OS X Server 2.0 soon.

Anyone hoping some PowerPC Rackmounts will be released at the same time?

Re:one question (1)

glenmark (446320) | more than 13 years ago | (#217505)

Not familiar with this (other than the biological reference). Could you provide a URL? (Always open to new info...)

Re:Some cluck at MacNN (5)

glenmark (446320) | more than 13 years ago | (#217508)

I am said "cluck" (odd term).

I don't know about old (I'm 33), but I am a bitter VMS system manager. As I've repeated on this forum many times before (just about any time a story about Beowulf or AppleSeed is posted), that bitterness stems from usage of the word "cluster" in contexts which fall far afield from the original usage of the term by the inventors of clustering, DIGITAL's VMS Engineering team, thus diluting the meaning of the term. The casual application of the term to distributed parallel computation arrays, web server farms, or other RAICs (Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Computers) incorectly leads many computing neophytes to believe that simply setting up a Beowulf array (much better term for this than cluster) or something similar gives them the same level of technological functionality as that provided by a state-of-the-art OpenVMS cluster. Nothing could be further from the truth!

"What's missing?", one might ask. Here is what I feel constitutes a cluster. (Note -- none of this is meant as flame-bait - just trying to rectify some misinformation which has become pervasive over the last few years. I regard Beowulf and AppleSeed as useful tools. I simply feel that it is inappropriate to refer to them as clusters.)

  • A Distributed Lock Manager, critical for much clustering functionality. All file operations, regardless of whether using standard C I/O routines or OS-specific I/O APIs, should automatically and transparently be mediated by the DLM. Without this functionality, one is left with a so-called "share-nothing" cluster, such as that available from Microsoft, thus limiting one to simple failover operation.
  • Cluster-wide File System. No file server such as NFS, SMB, or AppleShare involved here. All nodes in the cluster should be able to directly access any disk or tape drive in the cluster. The DLM is critical here for mediating simultaneous accesses.
  • Cluster-wide process control, either directly spawing processes on other nodes or through a batch queue system.
  • A Connection Manager to ensure that nodes correctly enter or leave the cluster. The CM manages the Quorum mechanism and keeps cluster transition times to a minimum.
  • Shared System Disk. Multiple nodes should be able to boot from a common system disk. This greatly simplifies management.
  • Single security and management domain. NT almost got that right, except for the dependance upon domain controllers and that domain database replication nonsense. Many flavors of *nix can be configured to get into the ballpark on this with add-on tools. If one can't transparently manage any node in the cluster from any other node, you don't have a cluster (and I'm not talking about something as trivial as spawning a new Telnet session).
  • Cluster-wide Process Control API. At least Beowulf and AppleSeed provide this much, which is a step in the right direction, although the API used is a bit primative.
  • Mixed Architecture Support. Shouldn't matter what hardware a given node is running on, as long as it is supported by the OS and the applications. All cluster communications protocols should be platform-neutral. Just out of curiosity, can one mix ix86, Alpha, and PPC nodes in a Beowulf array, thereby giving one the ability to divy up processing chores based upon which processor is best suited to a given task (Floating Point vs. Integer speeds for instance) or for gradual migration of the array to a different platform? (This isn't flambait -- I'm honestly curious.)
  • Rolling Upgrade Support. It should be possible to configure a cluster such that one can perform OS or application upgrades some number of nodes at a time, thus negating the need to bring down the entire cluster.
  • Parallel I/O support. All nodes can issue I/O requests to storage devices at the same time. This ties back in with the DLM and Cluster-wide file system.
  • Interconnect failover. All cluster communications traffic should route itself through whatever interconnect pathway has the lowest latency. (Hmmm, FiberChannel is a bit congested right now. Time to route through the 100baseT connection.)
  • High-end scaling. This is where I snicker at NT's so-called clustering solution. Two nodes only? Hah? (That is finally improving, but they still have a long way to go.) Beowulf and AppleSeed do okay in this department, although they have nothing that compares to the Galaxy Software Architecture [compaq.com] .
  • Load Balancing. Generically available to most server operating systems these days, although usually through a separate hardware based unit.
  • Cluster Alias. Can be faked for any OS with DNS tricks or by sticking the cluster or array behind a NAT router.

Re:Benchmarks and G3/G4 speed (1)

adam613 (449819) | more than 13 years ago | (#217509)

I have exactly the opposite experience with SETI. My Athlon 750 box running Win2k blows my brother's G4/400 (with MacOS 9.01) out of the water. I can process a wu in about 8.5 hrs with numerous other processes running (playing DVDs, AIM, etc), but he's taking 11.5 hrs running SETI only when the rest of the system is idle. This sort of performance is sad given how much faster the G4 is in general.

Re:Fast Ethernet? (1)

kraf (450958) | more than 13 years ago | (#217510)

You'd get more bandwidth but the latency would stay the same, so no real improvement.
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