Though researchers on the Human Genome Project would rather use Macs, Apple’s computers are the wrong shape to make into high-power computer clusters, according to a Wired
Though powerful, the upright design of the Power Mac G4 makes them unsuitable for stacking into computing clusters so researchers are increasingly hooking up ordinary PCs into clusters to make cut-price supercomputers, the article says.
“If Apple were to offer a scalable, high-density hardware solution, I would push hard for a platform switch,” Patrick Gavin of the University of California at Santa Cruz Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering, one of the premiere bioinformatics research labs, told Wired. “The PowerPC architecture is vastly superior to anything else out there in terms of power consumption versus processing power.”
Gavin said the center would prefer Macs because their PowerPC chips offer the most computing power for the least amount of electrical power, but that there’s no easy way to stack them in a space-conserving way because of the upright design of the G4. However, the issue of mounting Macs in a rack can be resolved, Ernie Prabhakar, product line manager for development platforms at Apple, said in the Wired article. For instance, some researchers have created specially designed racks for them.
Of course, there is another solution:
Marathon Computer, which is located in my hometown of Nashville, TN. They make a variety of rackmount upgrade chassis for the Power Mac line.
Meanwhile, Mac OS X is turning out to be a big draw to scientists. Gavin told Wired they “could probably port all our stuff in a couple of days” with the new operating system. (Thanks to MacCentral reader Grant Thompson for the heads-up on this one.)