Version 1.1 of Pooch, the Parallel Operation and Control Heuristic application, is now available from Dauger Research. The latest update introduces its implementation of the AppleScript interface with a host of new features and makes Pooch fully Mac OS X 10.1 compatible.
Pooch is a parallel computing operation utility for discovering nodes, launching parallel jobs, and monitoring nodes and parallel computations. Pooch uses TCP/IP exclusively for networking and is a Carbon application. It’s the successor to the Launch Den Mother & Launch Puppy and is purportedly far more capable, including the ability to operate over the Internet.
Pooch is designed to combine numerically intensive parallel-computing clusters with the Mac’s ease of use. It provides the user interface for the latest incarnation of Project AppleSeed. That project 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.
With Pooch’s new AppleScript implementation, jobs may be launched using scripts customized and automated for any particular task. That includes both transient and persistent scripts, such as for customized, automated job queuing tasks. Directing Pooch from Mac OS X’s Unix command line is available via a free, open-source utility named plaunch, which operates by translating Unix options into AppleScript commands and executing scripts from the command line. In addition, other applications may use AppleEvents, the communications structure upon which AppleScript is based, to direct Pooch to launch jobs that perform computational tasks. A demonstration of that ability to automate parallel executable launches is present in the latest AltiVec Fractal Carbon demo, available from the Dauger Research Web site.
The new version of Pooch also introduces a wide array of features and bug fixes, according to MacTech magazine. The new features include the addition of a heuristic algorithm to utilize the “best” resources found in the cluster, making “Computing Grid”-like behavior possible. Optimizations to Pooch’s network implementation were made, improving file transfer speed and launch times. Other features provide Mac OS X-specific abilities, such as Unix-based load measurement of processes and the ability to recognize and parallel launch executables compiled via GCC.
Pooch v1.1 is available now at US$150 for the first node then 100 for each node thereafter. Current users with an active subscription to Pooch will be receiving their free updates shortly. Pooch requires networked Macs running Mac OS 9 with CarbonLib 1.2 or later or OS X 10.1 or later with 4MB of available RAM and 2MB of disk space.