clustering

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Interesting story (in Wired) on clustering Macs:



<a href="http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,50078,00.html"; target="_blank">That's a Whole Lot of Power, Mac </a>





Now, is it possible that when Jobs told Wall Street some time ago of a plan to "address the megahertz myth", he had in mind precisely this sort of thing - some kind of massive clustering technology (maybe via gigawire) that was so easy to set up that any smart 6th grader (or his not so smart 6th grade teacher) could do it over his/her lunch hour?



This would directly combat large gaps in clockspeed at the individual chip level, and provide an interesting little "network effect" in school or business environments: the more Macs there are in any given small area, the more powerful any additional Mac in that small area becomes... and thus the local cluster grows. And grows... and grows... until even the staunchest Windows users find it difficult to resist all of that extra power just waiting to be tapped, if only they had a Mac on their desk.



Of course, the advantage would be temporary - MS/Intel would eventually fight back with their own clustering tech. But for the 1 or 2 years it might take them to do so, there might be a powerful window of opportunity for Apple to double or triple its market share.



Thoughts?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    hirhir Posts: 66member
    A few months ago, I wrote an email to [email protected] concerning possible products that Apple should produce. It was based on a purely "what would I buy? approach". One of the main suggestions I had was the ability for powermacs to automatically cluster when attached via a hypothetical "bus sharing" line. I pray this is what gigawire ends up being.



    WRAP YOUR HEAD AROUND THIS.

    &gt; You want more power? Buy another mac.

    &gt; Need more PCI slots? Buy another mac.

    &gt; Need more drive bays? Buy another mac.

    &gt; Still need more power? Buy another mac.

    &gt; Want more ports? Buy another Mac.

    &gt; You want all of these things at the same time? Buy another mac.



    You get the point. Connected macs would share their resources but function as a single computer -- 1 keyboard and monitor setup. It's the equivalent of that shampoo company adding "repeat" to their hair washing instructions and instantly doubling their sales.



    Mhz doesn't matter anymore. The only real drawback is the additional space needed. Just imagine the testoserone overdose you would have stepping back to see 4 (or more) dual 1 Ghz powermacs rack mounted, bus-shared, and cranking out your maya renders and video compressions!!!
  • Reply 2 of 37
    macgregormacgregor Posts: 1,434member
    This is the kind of long term investment in the OS that needs to be advertized alot more than on "Wired" emag. I'm sure Jobs has been thinking of this, but I wonder how much of the market this will attract.



    The interoperability of clusters containing G3's and G4's and different versions of Mac OS, is REALLY intriguing though. If you can cluster iMacs, you can upgrade every few years and instead of trying to sell your old one, just ethernet it to the new one....a cheap way to bridge the megahertz divide.



    Has anyone tried clustering a bunch of iMacs?



    How bout all those Cubes that were so expensive because they had limited expansion capacity? We had speculated a year ago about Cubes beibng wireless "nodes" in renderfarms, has anyone clustered them?
  • Reply 3 of 37
    macgregormacgregor Posts: 1,434member
    There is the matter of price. So you can grow your way out of the megahertz myth, but how much will it really cost you? Obviously from the article if you can afford the Macs you will save on operating costs...your entire IS department can be a bunch of 6th graders working for poptarts and rides to soccer practice!
  • Reply 4 of 37
    [quote]Originally posted by hir:

    <strong>One of the main suggestions I had was the ability for powermacs to automatically cluster when attached via a hypothetical "bus sharing" line.

    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    Actually, IIRC, there were some SGI workstations which even took this one step further: They had an external connector connected to their system bus (FSB) which could be interconnected (i.e. you then had one multi-processor computer spread through two enclosures).



    Bye,

    RazzFazz
  • Reply 5 of 37
    Clustering is a red herring and not worth Apple's time. Fact is most people don't need that much power. The ones who do buy fast cheap Linux boxes. It's just not worth the effort.
  • Reply 6 of 37
    xypexype Posts: 672member
    [quote]Originally posted by RazzFazz:

    <strong>



    Actually, IIRC, there were some SGI workstations which even took this one step further: They had an external connector connected to their system bus (FSB) which could be interconnected (i.e. you then had one multi-processor computer spread through two enclosures).



    Bye,

    RazzFazz</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Was this the NUMAflex technology or am I messing it up again? Either way, SGI has some _great_ technology and it'd be cool if Apple did that "SGI for pro shops, Apple for Joe" thingie. I think that any "advanced" tech like the SGI one would add up to general cost of the computers in a way to actually scare away people who don't need it.
  • Reply 6 of 37
    But what if the following Apps supported clustering?



    Photoshop - see Demo, see Demo run. See Demo crush Pentium computers with clustering set up in 10 minute SeyBold Demo. Only available in Photoshop X.



    Maya - drool. Again, trying to sell lots of boxen to the serious graphics artist crowd...



    iDVD - imagine how much faster you could encode your DVDs with iDVD clustering turned on. 300% as fast as a Pentium! Not! Try my iMac lab at school now encodes 5000% faster than a Pentium.



    :-)
  • Reply 8 of 37
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    I still think that simple clustering would be useful in Universities. There are computer labs running word processors and wasting CPUs while a few machines are maxed out running scientific something or others. If a sixth grader can do it now, it wouldn't take much for Apple to make it readily available for those who could use it but otherwise wouldn't know where to start.
  • Reply 9 of 37
    serranoserrano Posts: 1,806member
    [quote]Originally posted by Scott H.:

    <strong>Clustering is a red herring and not worth Apple's time. Fact is most people don't need that much power. The ones who do buy fast cheap Linux boxes. It's just not worth the effort.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    that's kind of the point, cheap linux boxes end up being anything but when you need people with the technical skills to set up and maintain such a cluster... larger initial investment in apple, but you save money in the long run, or so the theory goes <img src="graemlins/hmmm.gif" border="0" alt="[Hmmm]" />



    Riddle me this

    Command line is a red herring and not worth Apple's time. Fact is most people don't need that much power. The ones who do buy fast cheap Linux boxes. It's just not worth the effort.

    <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />



    maybe it's just that the people who could put this technology to use don't have access to a less expensive, user friendly, and more viable alternative

    [ 01-30-2002: Message edited by: janitor ]



    [ 01-30-2002: Message edited by: janitor ]</p>
  • Reply 10 of 37
    Clustering isn't THE ANSWER to everything, put it could definately have its place. At one of my previous jobs I worked at a school which probably had 50 G3 or better machines. It bugged the heck out of me that these machines sat around doing nothing 12 hours a day when no one was there and at least 50% of the time when someone was. [email protected] came along about this time and I was happy to run it, I slept better at night. Now I sit around thinking of how many particle simulations my office of a dozen or so G4's could run at night. Or even better, how I could get them to all work together to process info faster for our document system.



    In short, clustering have ENORMUS potential to be realyl useful in some specific places.
  • Reply 11 of 37
    One of the interesting things clustering can bring about is not having to sell old hardware. I think one of the posts above touched on this. You have a G3, you then buy a G4, instead of the G3 sitting idle, you setup a small cluster using both the G4 and the G3. Really useful if doing Photoshop work or FCP.



    Does anyone know how effective, if at all, clustering with Pooch is if done over the internet on say a 384 sdsl line?
  • Reply 12 of 37
    hirhir Posts: 66member
    ... um, before anyone asks, "NO." I don't think Steve Jobs actually reads his mac.com email.



    The main drawback is that we need cluster-enabled software. I can cluster my mac with all of yours right now if we have the Pooch software installed on our comps. We all already have a TCP/IP connection to one another. Here's the install page I picked up from the linked PDF page on the wired article.







    So who wants to start The Official AI Cluster Farm?!? More importantly, what would we do once we start it?
  • Reply 13 of 37
    philbotphilbot Posts: 240member
    How about running a Steve Jobs simulator?



    maybe then we'd get more reliable rumours?
  • Reply 14 of 37
    clustering CAN be awesome for the serious home 3d designer/animator

    just make a simple 2-4 node cluster and you instantly have super power in your 3-d/animation stuff, best thing is you start with one computer which allows you to get X amount of work done=Y profit then you get a 2 node network going with Y profit you now have 2 computers doing one task doubling your productivity and if your keen and savvy doubling your profit, this is assuming you use your mac, to make money doing graphics work(i.e designing posters, ads and the likes for web companies) or something like that

    It could be totally awesome



    personally I would be more than happy having even 1 dual ghz g4, cause the most advanced program I use in graphics is carrara, and I'm sure a dual ghz g4 would handle carrara just fine(as well as bryce 5)
  • Reply 15 of 37
    here's my unrealistic idea for a mac cluster... with the help of broadband.. use the internet!.. something i like to call Anonymous Clustering.



    anyone with a mac, whenever they log on to the net, will be logged into a Mac cluster server (although any mac user can choose to not be involved, however, then, they won't feel the benefits). When you have a big job that will take your computer some time to do, it will send part of it out to a couple random mac users with free resources. and, of course, when you have free resources, you will receive other people's jobs.

    okay.. the current speed of broadband would probably make this impossible.. but this could be the future!



    as far as more traditional clustering that you guys are talking about.. it would be great.. and a great move for apple!.. right now, when people buy new computers to replace their old.. they're doing just that.. replacing it.. usually throwing away their old computer or selling it for close to nothing.. but if apple added the ability to cluster, we could still use our old computers. i think this would actually help apple because people wouldn't feel they needed to wait as long to buy new computers!



    one last note.. i'm not sure about this, but i think if they could add the ability to cluster into macOS, individual apps wouldn't need to be programmed specifically for it.. basically, the macOS scheduler would handle all of it itself.



    in time, we shall see



    [ 01-30-2002: Message edited by: confirmed ]</p>
  • Reply 16 of 37
    a while ago, i emailed the head of dauger research, the guy who wrote pooch. i was interested in a G4 cluster running after effects. he said he was trying to get adobe and discreet interested in providing clustering support. imagine idle macs from the dayshift helping nightsiders crank through heavy animations in record time.



    this would be a massive "screw-you" to XP. every lab and graphics house in the country would want that kind of power. i just hope gigawire is a fiber channel networking/clustering technology!
  • Reply 17 of 37
    fluffyfluffy Posts: 361member
    [quote]Originally posted by confirmed:

    <strong>here's my unrealistic idea for a mac cluster... with the help of broadband.. use the internet!.. something i like to call Anonymous Clustering.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    That would be a security nightmare!!!
  • Reply 18 of 37
    [quote]Originally posted by confirmed:

    here's my unrealistic idea for a mac cluster... with the help of broadband.. use the internet!.. something i like to call Anonymous Clustering.



    Originally posted by Fluffy:

    <strong>



    That would be a security nightmare!!!</strong><hr></blockquote>





    Are you sure?



    The idea of anonymous clustering (ubiquitous distributed computing) is soooooo compelling that I suspect some kind of workable security model will be found.



    The *nix underpinnings of OS X would certainly make it easier - protected memory, file access permissions, etc.



    Of course viruses (virii?) can override such protections, but to my knowledge the number of *nix viruses is extremely small, and any vulnerabilities they expose are quickly patched.



    The idea of a global Mac collective (while beyond current wireless tech for bandwidth reasons) is so seductive that there would be a huge incentive to develop a viable security model.



    But in the short term, security won't be such a big deal, because the clusters will all be wired, within single organizations (schools, businesses, labs, the well-heeled enthusiast's den).
  • Reply 19 of 37
    combine the wacked out apple/global internet stalitle ideas with mac collective processor cluster

    and roll with this thought

    suppose of the millions of mac(10 million or so) in the US that 1 million were clustered together, further suppose that this would be feasible and sensible(given the cool things unix and os x offeR)your pc friend comes up to you and says "my computer is 3 ghz using rambus..etc" you say "my computer is about 14 terahertz, then walk away grinning



    lol

    that would be sooo cool



    now back to reality where this is impossible
  • Reply 20 of 37
    macgregormacgregor Posts: 1,434member
    I know I should be looking this up myself, but I was just wondering if anyone had a good one-paragraph description of the difference between how the current Mac OS can multithread and use MP's AND how it would have to be changed to do "automatic" cluster parallel processing irregardless of software? Would it be a big change?



    This is where all those/you unix guys can start really contributing to the cause!!!



    OS level clustering would be great....I wouldn't want to have to wait for even Adobe to get around to supporting clusters.
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