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Apple seeks iOS developers to expand cloud-hosted services

post #1 of 20
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Apple is looking to expand its iOS development team with new employees who will enhance the company's cloud-based services for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Just before Christmas, Apple posted two new job listings (1, 2) for the title of "iOS Software Engineer." While the two full-time positions discovered by AppleInsider have different job descriptions, both describe an emphasis on remote storage for data access.

"Apple is hiring outstanding operations engineers to deliver and manage the next generation of hosted infrastructure serving Apple products and services," one of the listings reads. The other says, "Apple is hiring experienced software engineers to work on distributed computing for data with non-trivial properties, and efficient online services for data access."

One of the positions also seeks a candidate who has "experience developing large-scale offline or online storage systems." Both positions are based at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., campus.

Some may view the hirings as further evidence of a cloud-based iTunes or other MobileMe-style services from Apple. The hirings could also be an effort by the company to bolster its new cloud-centric Apple TV, a device that also runs a version of the lightweight iOS operating system.



Numerous reports have indicated that Apple is interested in creating its own cloud-based iTunes service, which could allow users to stream their own music library from any Internet-connected device. It is believed that some of the functionality could come from Apple's acquisition of Lala.

There's also an e-mail allegedly sent by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs earlier this month, in which he purportedly said that his company's MobileMe service would "get a lot better in 2011." The $99-per-year Internet-based service is an existing cloud venture from Apple, but a major portion of it, Find My iPhone, became free with the release of iOS 4.2.

Apple's massive data center in North Carolina was set to launch this year, though Apple has not yet made any announcements for its potential use. But many have speculated that it will be used for cloud computing, perhaps via MobileMe, and streaming services, likely through iTunes.
post #2 of 20
I believe Apple has been developing a new html5 / Javascript framework API including web user interface elements for its cloud. This will change web applications forever.

http://www.readwriteweb.com/cloud/20...e-develops.php

I expect some big cloud announcements involving the new data centers as well.
http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/t...ta-center-faq/
http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/t...er-faq-part-2/

Time will tell.
post #3 of 20
I'm a fan of the word "non-trivial". I wonder what it means in this context... And I wonder if they ever look for someone with experience with data that has trivial properties...
post #4 of 20
Umm... wouldn't the new data center be useful for a software service that sells and tracks updates for your OS X software? Wouldn't they expect to get a lot of use for that? My guess is the Mac App Store will use the data center quite a bit!
post #5 of 20
They ought to start by improving the reliability and speed of the services that MM already offers.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I'm a fan of the word "non-trivial". I wonder what it means in this context... And I wonder if they ever look for someone with experience with data that has trivial properties...

It probably means that the data requires non-trivial computations on it to be useful. Plain old website pages would be an example of data with trivial properties: someone requests a page, you get it from disk, and shove it to the customer ASAP. No computation required, just shoveling bytes. Not necessarily trivial, but the engineering effort is in data storage and communication.

As I interpret it, some examples of "data with non-trivial properties" would be cartographic data that has to be rendered into custom tiles, movie data that has to be custom encrypted or scaled, search engines, and perhaps databases of some kind (although in that case Apple probably would have explicitly asked for someone with database expertise). Custom-compiled software would also fall under "data with non-trivial properties". Still, all this is just speculation, Apple still has plenty of room to surprise us.
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I'm a fan of the word "non-trivial". I wonder what it means in this context... And I wonder if they ever look for someone with experience with data that has trivial properties...

They are perhaps meaning things like SETI or even Folding @ Home. The results of the former are obviously non-existant and the results of the latter are listed here:

http://folding.stanford.edu/English/Papers

A lot of the papers are just about the distributed computing itself and nothing to do with the results of the computations. I'm sure it's worth contributing to global warming for though .

If this is iOS related and server-related, I wonder if this is part of an ARM server movement. Look at the ATV for example, it runs with a 6W PSU. Give it 1GB RAM, dual 2GHz Cortex A9 and those SSD chips in the MBA and you have a very small, power-efficient server.

Running iOS server would be quite cool because you would be able to manage them remotely using an iPad.
post #8 of 20
Just like its any other move, Apple is taking its time before making it big on cloud services.
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post #9 of 20


IOS Software Engineer -- Apple is hiring experienced engineers to work on distributed computing for data with non-trivial properties, and efficient online services for data access. This is an opportunity to contribute to the backend foundation for Apple products, devices and overall experience delivered to millions of Apple customers.

This seems to be interesting/contradictory on several levels:

1) the backend foundation Apple uses does not run iOS, or, AFAICT, even OS X.

2) iOS does not do distributed computing

3) there are no [known] iOS devices that participate in online services except as a source or destination for sending or receiving files -- certainly not as a component of distributed computing network.


This could mean something as simple as wanting an iOS guy participating in all the design decisions for backend, distributed, and online services.

Or it could signal the intention to supply other iOS devices and services:

-- iOS backend servers in Apple datacenters
-- iOS Home Servers
-- iOS SMB Office Servers
-- iOS Enterprise Servers

There are several interesting possibilities:

1) there are several ARM-based general purpose web/file servers in development -- and an iOS ARM server would be cheaper and greener (much less power) than comparable Intel-based servers. These could be used internally by Apple and/or sold to enterprise, server farms, etc.

2) Rumored XServe replacement could be an ARM-Based iOS Server -- for SMB.

3) a small ARM-Based iOS Home Server / Time Machine (external RAID HDD) used to consolidate/backup content from multiple computers in the home.

4) 2 or 3 above could be a component of a distributed network, where some hi-use content is staged locally, and other low-use content is stored (and backed up) in the cloud and staged locally on demand. For the home this could be your digital media: iTunes purchases, home movies, photos, etc. For the SMB this could be the current period's files (year, month, quarter) with the archives stored in the cloud.


Further, I suspect that iOS will be folded into the next version of Mac OS X (and Mac OS X Server) or that these OSes will be able to run iOS virtually ala Rosetta (or better). So any Intel hardware running Mac OS X [Server] and iOS would allow easy migration from an Intel-based Mac OS X Server to an ARM-based iOS Server.

.
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post #10 of 20
Nice pick up and interesting thoughts DA.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

There are several interesting possibilities:

1) there are several ARM-based general purpose web/file servers in development -- and an iOS ARM server would be cheaper and greener (much less power) than comparable Intel-based servers. These could be used internally by Apple and/or sold to enterprise, server farms, etc.

2) Rumored XServe replacement could be an ARM-Based iOS Server -- for SMB.

Take Apples SSD blade found in the MBAs, put an A4 on it on it with some flash NAND and stick it in a 2U blade server that can house about 100 of these units from both ends with room for dual power supplies, which still use less power than current Xserves.
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post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by fractured View Post

Umm... wouldn't the new data center be useful for a software service that sells and tracks updates for your OS X software? Wouldn't they expect to get a lot of use for that? My guess is the Mac App Store will use the data center quite a bit!

Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

They ought to start by improving the reliability and speed of the services that MM already offers.

The first thoughts that came to my mind.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by striker_kk View Post

Just like its any other move, Apple is taking its time before making it big on cloud services.

And like before, we are getting impatient! The time has come for Apple to do an "iPad" of cloud services.
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Take Apples SSD blade found in the MBAs, put an A4 on it on it with some flash NAND and stick it in a 2U blade server that can house about 100 of these units from both ends with room for dual power supplies, which still use less power than current Xserves.

Methinks that thou hast broken the code!
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post #15 of 20
Might be difficult to convince server customers to go back to a 32 bit cpu.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by samab View Post

Might be difficult to convince server customers to go back to a 32 bit cpu.

Yeah, it is really tough serving web pages with 32-bit CPUs...

After a while...
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post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Methinks that thou hast broken the code!

The code would certainly break if you try to put a processor on a SATA card soldered beside MLC Flash in a server with no RAM. They could certainly use the iOS device motherboards with 1-2GB RAM soldered per CPU but sealing the server SSD storage onto it isn't a good idea as the costs to replace failed storage would be higher than needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samab

Might be difficult to convince server customers to go back to a 32 bit cpu.

They would probably use 64-bit ARM chips when they arrive:

http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-n...n--says-report

Given that this job advert is out now, they can't be too far into the project to the point that we will see a revolutionary product soon.

It would be interesting to see how many iOS motherboards could be taken and put into something the size and cost of a Mac Pro Server and how they compare in performance.

A 12-core Mac Pro gets 25000 in Geekbench and the iPad gets 460, which would suggest the Mac Pro is 54 times faster. Say the motherboard + 1GHz A4 + 512MB RAM is $100, you'd manage to buy 64 motherboards for the cost of one Mac Pro and end up with 32GB of RAM. To match that RAM in the Mac Pro, it would cost another $3400.

Power draw would be under 6W x 64 = 384W. The Mac Pro has a 1kW PSU.

I think they'd have to get higher performance from each processor first like using the following quad-core ARM server chips:

http://hothardware.com/News/Marvell-...e-for-Servers/

That's 4x the 1.6GHZ Atom performance in under 10W.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

The code would certainly break if you try to put a processor on a SATA card soldered beside MLC Flash in a server with no RAM. They could certainly use the iOS device motherboards with 1-2GB RAM soldered per CPU but sealing the server SSD storage onto it isn't a good idea as the costs to replace failed storage would be higher than needed.



They would probably use 64-bit ARM chips when they arrive:

http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-n...n--says-report

Given that this job advert is out now, they can't be too far into the project to the point that we will see a revolutionary product soon.

It would be interesting to see how many iOS motherboards could be taken and put into something the size and cost of a Mac Pro Server and how they compare in performance.

A 12-core Mac Pro gets 25000 in Geekbench and the iPad gets 460, which would suggest the Mac Pro is 54 times faster. Say the motherboard + 1GHz A4 + 512MB RAM is $100, you'd manage to buy 64 motherboards for the cost of one Mac Pro and end up with 32GB of RAM. To match that RAM in the Mac Pro, it would cost another $3400.

Power draw would be under 6W x 64 = 384W. The Mac Pro has a 1kW PSU.

I think they'd have to get higher performance from each processor first like using the following quad-core ARM server chips:

http://hothardware.com/News/Marvell-...e-for-Servers/

That's 4x the 1.6GHZ Atom performance in under 10W.

Wow!

Thanks for putting that into perspective

This really interests me!

One thing you didn't mention is that the A4 also includes a GPU, so your 64-by server would include 64 CPUs and 64 GPUs.

Admittedly, the GPU on the A4 doesn't support OpenGL, but it is rumored that the GPU on the next Apple ARM SOC (A5?) will.

If Apple stays with a single core (pr keeps a 1:1 ratio CPU Core to GPU), your 64-by server would have 128 unique components capable of OpenCL -- as opposed to. say, 24 on the much more power hungry Mac Pro.

Then, consider the fact that GCD already runs on iOS, And that the Apache HTTP server has been adapted to run GCD

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Central_Dispatch

Next, you can install Apache and on a JailBroken iPhone. People have perviously ported MySQL to early JailBroken iPhones ca 2007-2008.

So with iOS, A5 CPU, A5 GPU OpenCL GCD, iAMP -- we have the makings of a prettey powerful server.


BTW, that server could run on anything from a $99 AppleTV to a your 64-by (now 128-by) micro-behemoth.

.
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post #19 of 20
The rumor about a 64 bit ARM chip never materialized and the Marvell server chip is for the "home server" environment.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

The code would certainly break if you try to put a processor on a SATA card soldered beside MLC Flash in a server with no RAM. They could certainly use the iOS device motherboards with 1-2GB RAM soldered per CPU but sealing the server SSD storage onto it isn't a good idea as the costs to replace failed storage would be higher than needed.

1) It was a joke as there are many aspects to the A4 that just are pointless for such a server.

2) The card is physically mini-PCIe, like the WiFi/BT modules.
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