Researchers at the Grupo de Lasers e Plasmas (GoLP) say (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) they’ve achieved “the first milestone of the GoLP simulation program on Extreme Plasma Physics”: the installation of the first Macintosh G4 cluster in Europe, called epp (or ep2).
The cluster is based on the AppleSeed paradigm. Purportedly, the epp cluster is capable of delivering over 50 GFlops of peak power, and it is based on 16 Dual PowerPC G4/450, 32 processors, 12GB of RAM, 0.5 terabyte of hard disk space, running Mac OS 9, over 100 Mb/s Fast Ethernet, and is switched by one Asanté Intracore 8000.
The researchers say this is probably the fastest Macintosh-based cluster in the World. The installation and setup of this cluster took less than one day and didn’t require previous knowledge of networking. This “supercomputer for the rest of us” will be used for the numerical simulation of plasmas, novel plasma particle acceleration schemes using ultra intense lasers, and relativistic shocks in astrophysics, according to the researchers.
Project AppleSeed is a way to transform a cluster of Power Macs into a parallel processing system. Decyk, Dean Dauger, and Pieter Kokelaar of UCLA’s Department of Physics created their own parallel processing “supercomputer” using a cluster of Power Mac G3s and G4s, some commercial networking hardware, and some software they designed themselves.
The AppleSeed Web site features a variety of do-it-yourself tips on constructing parallel-processing systems from Power Macs, what sort of off-the-shelf software you can use to help manage the systems, and how to write your own parallel processing-savvy software. Last month, the site was updated with new features that anticipate the “widespread use of OS X in the coming year,” according to Viktor Decyk, one of the site’s founders.