January 17, 2005

Cal Poly Chooses Mac Minis for Supercomputer

1 million-node computer the largest in the world

17 January 2005 --- /Denounce NewsWire/--- California Polytechnic Institute and State University announced they are building a massive supercomputing cluster using one million Apple Computer Inc.'s new Mac Mini computer with 64-bit G4 processors.

When completed, the cluster of 1,024,163 nodes is expected to rank among the most powerful in the world, Cal Poly said in a statement. The university, which is in Pasadena, has been working with Apple for several months to adapt the new Mac Mini for its cluster.

The Apple cluster will reside at Cal Poly's Computing Center and will be used by the university's Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.

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

DeepFreeze Technologies Inc., which released a statement about the project yesterday, supplied the liquid nitrogen and special sealed containers into which all one million Mac Minis, plus their power and network connector cables, shall be dunked. "The cooling system for the Mac Mini cluster will be the most sophisticated ever undertaken," said a DeepFreeze representative.

Rather than stack hundreds of Mac Minis together in rack configurations, Cal Poly has chosen to fill a large Olympic-sized swimming pool with liquid nitrogen, and then dip the array of all one million Minis into the supercooled pool. "This will cut our cooling bill by about 95%," the University said.

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 Mac Mini is said to offer excellent floating-point performance, a key requirement of many scientific computing applications. Plus, it requires no keyboard, mouse, or monitor, and its tiny size is ideally suited for clustering.

Shipments of dual-processor Mac Minis to regular customers were supposed to start on January 22, but many users have reported on Apple enthusiast sites that their shipments have been delayed, most likely due to the enormous $600 million order from Cal Poly. "The sheer size of their order would tend to bump them up in priority a bit," an Apple representative said.

Posted by denounce on January 17, 2005 10:19 AM

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