Xserve Supercomputing Cluster to be Launched in Europe

A new supercomputing cluster built from Apple Xserves will be launched in Europe. eWeek reported Wednesday that Omneta had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (similar to a Letter of Intent) with Apple to provide Xserves and Xserve RAID units for the cluster, and another MoU with Interoute to handle networking services for the project.

Omneta intends to offer the computing power from the cluster to customers on a one-time or monthly basis, and if demand is there, the cluster will be expanded to several "secret, ultra secure, bombproof centres" across Europe, according to a statement issued by Livo Technologies. Livo Technologies will be providing the system of logging into the network.

eWeek reported that Omneta Chief Technical Officer Tony Clark attributed Apple for providing "significant support" for the project, and that the company may even help market the service once it is launched. Mr. Clark also told the magazine that Apple could supply up to 500 Xserve units per day if needed.

The business model for the startup is aimed at corporate clients in a market with many political borders. For instance, it will be possible to make sure that data being processed on the networked cluster is contained within geographical borders, as might be required by local governments or corporations.

The example offered in eWeek was of a Swiss pharmaceutical company concerned about data leaving the borders of its home country. According to Mr. Clark, the network will be able to control such factors.

Ironically, itis the power of the G5 processor that brought Omneta to Apple. Mr. Clark chose the company after Steve Jobs said publicly that the PowerPC G5 was the most cost-efficient, highest-bandwidth processor in the data center.

Apple is currently in the process of transitioning away from the G5, built by IBM, to processors built by Intel.

There is more information on the project in the eWeek article. Omneta has not yet launched a Web site, but the company is exhibiting at Apple Expo in Paris this week.