Originally posted by jginsbu
Here's what I find a little odd: Why the screensaver approach?
I believe that this is one of Xgrid's strengths. Remember, it is designed to enable laboratories, universities, rendering shops etc make use of spare cycles in an already existing network of Macs. Thus, it will 'take over' secretaries' or accountants' computers once they have gone home. Having a screensaver means these workers don't need to remember to set anything, and, in the event that they need their computers, will retain control. My school has several hundred Macs that I'm certain are doing nothing between about 7PM and 8AM - think of the wasted cycles that will become available. Thus, you get high power distributed computing without any significant investment
. As things stand, I believe Apple views this sort of system as at least as important as using Xgrid in a specially bought system like Big Mac (for which it is probably far from ready anyway).
Looking into the future, I'm sure we'll see this built in at OS level. In fact, MOSR has it coming in 10.4, though you can probably take that with a large pinch of salt. One thing I think would be an especial advantage of this would be that, if enabled, Xgrid could seek out ANY available cycles on the network, and then ask the user if s/he would mind 'donating cyles' in the background. Of course, it would have to be configured to avoid slowing the donor's system, and there would doubtless be security issues to sort out. The preview won't do this right now; you have to know the cluster's name and password to join.
In the even further future, isn't this one time where we can really say that a shift in the most basic way we design computers is possible? I'm well aware that the OS and apps and so on would require a lot of work to be clusterable, but nevertheless what about this: at some point, processor speed becomes irrelevent. As soon as you fire up Doom 6 or whatever, the OS locates all the cycles you need and allocates them to you. Same goes for your big render, your statistics project, your bioinformatics stuff, your compiles. Is this a fair way off in the future and does it require a lot of development, not least in networking? Yes to all. Is it feasible? I certainly believe so.
It is an exciting prospect.