MacMall sells pieces of Virginia Tech G5 supercomputer

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Virginia Tech's Power Mac G5-based supercomputer has already passed into legend among Mac fans, and now you can own a piece thanks to Mac catalog reseller MacMall. They're advertising refurbished Power Mac G5s that until recently powered Virginia Tech's Terascale Computing Facility -- the supercomputing cluster known as System X, sometimes affectionately referred to as Big Mac instead.

"Own a piece of history," announces an ad that appeared on MacMall's homepage recently, accompanied by Virginia Tech's stylized logo. "Buy a Power Mac G5 2GHz [Dual Processor] refurbished by Apple from Virginia Tech's Supercomputer!"

Recently it was noted that Virginia Tech migrated System X from desktop Power Mac G5 systems to Apple's recently-released Xserve G5 instead -- the 1U-tall rack-mounted server introduced at Macworld Expo last month that sports many of the same bus features as Apple's Power Mac G5 desktop systems. The conversion from desktop system to rack-mount server has led some to wonder what would happen to the desktop systems displaced by the upgrade. Now it would seem that mystery has been solved.

Virginia Tech's System X was pieced together in 2003 using 1,100 Power Mac G5 2GHz dual processor desktop systems -- some of the first systems off the assembly line, by Apple CEO Steve Jobs' own admission and apology to early adopters during his keynote address at January's Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

System X made waves last November when it was announced that the system placed third on the Top 500 list, a roster of the world's fastest supercomputers. System X cost a fraction of the price of other systems in its class, according to Virginia Tech. It was quite a coup for Virginia Tech and Apple alike, raising the profile of the Power Mac G5 and Apple as an affordable solution for High Performance Computing (HPC).

The systems sold by MacMall are listed as 2.0GHz Power Mac G5s equipped with 1GB DDR SDRAM (2 512MB memory cards); equipped with 160GB ATA drives, a SuperDrive, ATI Radeon 9600 Pro graphics processor, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 1.1 ports, 2 FireWire 400 ports and 1 FireWire 800 port, along with an AirPort Extreme card slot and no modem -- in other words, a stock Power Mac G5 Dual 2GHz system with a memory upgrade from 512MB to 1GB.

MacMall is charging US$2,799 for the refurbished Virginia Tech Power Mac G5 configuration, more than $200 less than the same configuration would cost new from MacMall, after rebates -- you can read more on their Web site. MacMall indicated that the Virginia Tech G5s had been refurbished by Apple directly, though the retailer did not indicate on its Web site how many units it has in stock or when it will ship them.

This story, "MacMall sells pieces of Virginia Tech G5 supercomputer" was originally published by PCWorld.

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