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US Army To Use 1,566 Xserve G5s For Supercomputing Cluster

US Army To Use 1,566 Xserve G5s For Supercomputing Cluster

by , 7:00 AM EDT, June 22nd, 2004

CNet News is reporting that Apple has landed a contract to provide 1,566 Xserve G5 Macs for a supercomputing cluster for the army. Costing some US$5.8 million, the cluster will occupy some 42 racks and 600 square feet of floor space, and will be used for simulations by the US Army. CNet reports the cluster is expected to hit the 15 teraflop performance level, not quite 50% faster than the 1100 Power Mac G5 supercomputing cluster put together by Virginia Tech last year. That would move the Army's system into the Top 5 fastest supercomputers on the planet. From CNet:

A US Army contractor has purchased a US$5.8 million, 1,566-server supercomputer from Apple Computer, a real-world cousin to an academic system that briefly appeared high on a list of the most powerful machines.


The Colsa system, made of dual-processor Xserve G5 machines, is expected to reach about 15 teraflops when it's up and running this fall, said project manager Mike Whitlock.


Much of the credit to Apple's successes thus far is due to the processor it uses--IBM's PowerPC 970--Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff said.

"The Macintosh software and the nice management features of OS X are factors here, but certainly performance of the processor is an enormous factor," Haff said. "PowerPC is a fast processor."

There's more information in the full article, which we recommend as a good read.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This is a big score for Apple. One might even say a huge score. It is possible that Apple will have two of the five fastest supercomputers in the world this Fall, though that does depend on how well Virginia Tech's redesigned cluster performs. Virginia Tech announced earlier this year it was replacing its Power Mac G5s with Xserve G5s.

If that should happen (two of the top five fastest systems being Mac-based), Apple will have effectively redefined the high-performance space by showing that the Virginia Tech project was not a fluke. For US$5 million, you too could have one of the fastest supercomputers on the planet. That's most likely enough to make the Big Iron folks a little nervous, and it will certainly bring down prices in that high-dollar industry. Even more importantly, however, we believe that such a success would catapult Apple into being a big player in this lucrative market.

That, in turn, should be good for the entire platform, and further help to change the perceptions that many people have about the Mac not being a "serious" computer.

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