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New York Times Looks At G5 Supercomputer, Offers New Performance Numbers

New York Times Looks At G5 Supercomputer, Offers New Performance Numbers

by , 5:00 PM EDT, October 22nd, 2003

What usually takes several years at costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars has recently been done in a month for just over US$5 million. The task? Building a world-class supercomputer, specifically the Virginia Tech supercomputer. The New York Times has taken its turn at covering the project, which is unofficially dubbed "Big Mac," further increasing Apple's PR reach for the project.

According to the article, the supercomputer, powered by 2,200 IBM G5 processors, has been initially rated at computing 7.41 trillion operations per second. The final number could be much higher, according to school officials, but if not, it would rank as the #4 fastest supercomputing cluster in the world. Earlier this month, we reported that Big Mac could rank as the #2 supercomputer at 17.6 TFlops, but those numbers have seemingly not been achieved as of yet.

The article goes on to compare the US$5M Virginia Tech supercomputer to the likes of Japan's US$250M Earth Simulator, which is currently the world's fastest computer, and Lawrence Livermore's US$10-15M cluster system, which is made up of 2,304 Intel Xeon processors. From the New York Times:

The Virginia Tech supercomputer, put together from 1,100 Apple Macintosh computers, has been successfully tested in recent days, according to Jack Dongarra, a University of Tennessee computer scientist who maintains a listing of the world's 500 fastest machines.

The official results for the ranking will not be reported until next month at a supercomputer industry event. But the Apple-based supercomputer, which is powered by 2,200 I.B.M. microprocessors, was able to compute at 7.41 trillion operations a second, a speed surpassed by only three other ultra-fast computers.


"We are demonstrating that you can build a very high performance machine for a fifth to a tenth of the cost of what supercomputers now cost," said Hassan Aref, the dean of the School of Engineering at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. The computer was put together in a virtual flash. Scientists from the school met with Apple executives two days after the company introduced its new 64-bit desktop computer in June.

You can read the full article at the New York Times' Web site, or read the registration-free version via Google News.

The Mac Observer Spin:

How fast is the Big Mac? Hopefully the final numbers can be pulled to be a bit higher than those achieved so far; as we noted before, however, if the project comes out anywhere in the Top 5 at a cost of only US$5 million, it will be a huge coup for Apple. So far, it seems as if things are on track for such a placement.

In the meanwhile, this is yet more great PR for Apple.

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