Supercomputing for the masses...? Apple could SO be the new SGI...!

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Look at this site:



http://www.orionmulti.com/



Now try and remember what SGI was 'back in the day', and speculate on where Apple could go vis a vis the entertainment industry, if they would just frillin' apply themselves...!

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by MacRonin

    Look at this site:



    http://www.orionmulti.com/



    Now try and remember what SGI was 'back in the day', and speculate on where Apple could go vis a vis the entertainment industry, if they would just frillin' apply themselves...!




    So long as you are you are using a website for inspiration, of the things you see there what is Apple not doing that it needs to do?
  • Reply 2 of 11
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    Do I really need to spell it out...?



    Apple could start making some high-end kick ass workstations...



    Deskside workstations with multiple multi-core CPUs, multiple graphics pipelines, built-in AIDs, etc. ...



    The kind of kit that SGI was known for back in the day, the stuff everyone drooled over, wishing they had a seat of PA & Composer to crunch DCC files all day (and night)...



    I am not talking about the consumer market here, I am talking about some serious high-end DCC workstations & renderfarms/clusters here...



    i am talking about Shake running in real time, same for Motion, FCp, etc. ...



    I am talking about Apple being THE benchmark for OpenGL performance...



    Those with glasses half empty need not reply...
  • Reply 3 of 11
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by MacRonin

    Do I really need to spell it out...?



    Apple could start making some high-end kick ass workstations...



    Deskside workstations with multiple multi-core CPUs, multiple graphics pipelines, built-in AIDs, etc. ...



    The kind of kit that SGI was known for back in the day, the stuff everyone drooled over, wishing they had a seat of PA & Composer to crunch DCC files all day (and night)...



    I am not talking about the consumer market here, I am talking about some serious high-end DCC workstations & renderfarms/clusters here...



    i am talking about Shake running in real time, same for Motion, FCp, etc. ...



    I am talking about Apple being THE benchmark for OpenGL performance...



    Those with glasses half empty need not reply...




    I think that you are living in a world that has passed you by or soon will pass you by. The high-end workstation is being replaced by high-end PCs. SGI clusters are being replaced by IBM RS/6000 clusters are being replaced by clusters of commodity PCs running Linux. Even when people still used SGI workstations in large numbers, much of the CGI work attributed to SGI computers was actually done on Macs. The final renders were done on SGI, but the preliminary work was done on Macs.



    The most powerful university-owned supercomputer in the World is the Xserve cluster at the University of Virginia. Apple is promoting high-performance computing in a big way to the people who need it. The thing that you have to understand is that computers in this market are quite likely to be built by their users. Apple just announced a small cluster designed for bioinformatics. Just because you don't know everything that the company is doing doesn't mean that it is not doing them.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    polluxpollux Posts: 3member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Mr. Me



    [...]

    The most powerful university-owned supercomputer in the World is the Xserve cluster at the University of Virginia. Apple is promoting high-performance computing in a big way to the people who need it. The thing that you have to understand is that computers in this market are quite likely to be built by their users.[...]




    Yes, yes! You are right. But there is two thing going on here. (i) Providing the hardware solution (ii) Providing software to run on a "supercomputer" performing cluster. Yes, a cluster of Xserve provides the necessary gigaflops of performance (that just technology... and we don't care about technology*), but the previous poster is asking for point (ii) ie having Apple -and others- provide "clustered" version of their pro apps that would "just work" on user-define clusters (and that would be features... and we do care about features*).



    -S.

    ----

    *Features are what we use. Technologies are clever ways to assemble stuff, magical stones, monkeys, PPCs, x86, etc to provide features to a user... Then again geeks think they care for tech... but they don't they care about having something to say about it... isn't that a feature !
  • Reply 5 of 11
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Pollux

    Yes, yes! You are right. But there is two thing going on here. (i) Providing the hardware solution (ii) Providing software to run on a "supercomputer" performing cluster. Yes, a cluster of Xserve provides the necessary gigaflops of performance (that just technology... and we don't care about technology*), but the previous poster is asking for point (ii) ie having Apple -and others- provide "clustered" version of their pro apps that would "just work" on user-define clusters (and that would be features... and we do care about features*).



    -S.

    ----

    *Features are what we use. Technologies are clever ways to assemble stuff, magical stones, monkeys, PPCs, x86, etc to provide features to a user... Then again geeks think they care for tech... but they don't they care about having something to say about it... isn't that a feature !




    Applications like Final Cut Pro HD or Logic are limosines. High performance computing applications are more like jet fighter prototypes. You don't just walk into Fry's or Best Buy and walk out with an app to the predict the weather on across the USA with 1 square meter resolution, the physical properties of a crystal of DNA, or a photorealistic animated simulation of New York City. High-performance computing applications are at the forefront of applied mathematics, computer science, and other sciences as well. They are generally one-off applications written by their users. What Apple is doing is providing the tools and training for scientists and engineers to do just that.
  • Reply 6 of 11
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Mr. Me

    I think that you are living in a world that has passed you by or soon will pass you by.



    I still say Apple could do well to make a high-end uber workstation for the entertainment vertical market...





    Quote:

    Originally posted by Mr. Me

    Apple just announced a small cluster designed for bioinformatics. Just because you don't know everything that the company is doing doesn't mean that it is not doing them.



    Old news, seen that a few years ago, if not more...



    And it is nice, but a kludge of sorts...



    I am talking having the equivilent of the edit bay Robin Williams had in final Cut, but for todays DCC...
  • Reply 7 of 11
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,748member
    Actully, I was thinking about this sitution the other day. Apple really hs been making inroads into the high performance computing market. Primarily, this has been because a)the G5 provides an amazing dollars to performance ratio and b)because they have done much of the leg work to get clusters up and running fast.



    Now, given their shift to Intel, they have lost a major selling point for their clusters. In terms of price, thy will no longer be able to offer vastly higher performance per dollar. Look at the the to 500 supercomputers. Most of the top performers are Power and PowerPC. Even IBM is shifting some of their sales toward PPC clusters at the high end.



    I wonder if Apple will continue to affer PPC xServers and clusters after the transition. It would make sense in some ways. Steve said that in 2 years, the transitions would be mostly completed. I wonder if he means because some products will be offered in two flavours. The xServe is already a unique R&D sitution within Apple, as a part of their enterprise product group. Allowing them to continue a dual platform might be OK for Steve.



    I really don't see any other way Apple can continue to be competitive in this space. At that end, they really do not care about how nice your GUI is. They care about $/performance. Since at the processor level, Apple will be the same as Dell or HP, what will their sales pitch to researchers needing a large cluster be? "hey, ours just works?" I don't think that will be effective at that level. Atthat level, they don't necessarily care about what makes a Mac a Mac. They care about budgets and performance.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by MacRonin

    I still say Apple could do well to make a high-end uber workstation for the entertainment vertical market...



    This just the point, the market is moving away from dedicated vertical hardware.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by MacRonin

    Old news, seen that a few years ago, if not more...



    And it is nice, but a kludge of sorts...



    I am talking having the equivilent of the edit bay Robin Williams had in final Cut, but for todays DCC...




    Here, you are just plain wrong and wrong on several levels:
    • The clusters are based on Xserves, which are still relatively new in Apple's product line.

    • The clusters just introduced are preconfigured, but Xserve clusters have traditionally been self-built by the users.

    • The clusters in questions are assembled in low-profile rollaway racks, a new configuration for Apple.

  • Reply 9 of 11
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Mr. Me

    This just the point, the market is moving away from dedicated vertical hardware.



    Here, you are just plain wrong and wrong on several levels:The clusters are based on Xserves, which are still relatively new in Apple's product line.
    The clusters just introduced are preconfigured, but Xserve clusters have traditionally been self-built by the users.
    The clusters in questions are assembled in low-profile rollaway racks, a new configuration for Apple.




    Uh, no, you are wrong...



    I clearly recall reading all about the Workgroup Cluster for Bioinformatics offered from Apple, at the beginning of last year...



    As for the low-profile rollaway rack, that is the same 12U sound-insulated rack from Xtreme that Apple has been offering for years...



    I have speced out my own cluster with this rack unit back when the Xserves were still G4s... Wanted to find a price for a handy little Shake/Maya/FCP renderfarm...



    Ideally I would like to see (as I have mentioned before, search for my posts) a 3U workstation with quad quad-core CPUs; a 3U XRAID; and a 6U blade server, all tucked into the aforementioned Xtreme 12U chassis...



    Hook a 30" ACD and the new(ish) 21" Cintiq, and a 23" ACD for HD monitoring; would make for one heck of a one man shop DCC rig...
  • Reply 10 of 11
    The biggest impediment I see to these custom workstations is one of economic feasibility. Many of the tasks the O2s etc were designed for can more and more be done by off the shelf, commodity components; and more every year. While it's easy to argue with custom motherboard backplanes with individual buses for each component will still provide dramatic speed increases; the increase compared to the cost of development spread over continually decreasing customer base becomes less and less viable.



    I think Apple may try to innovate within reason on the motherboard; but more likely we will find Apple's innovation largely restricted to coercing Mac OS X into utilizing Intel's latest and greatest technologies before, and more efficiently than Microsoft. Their abstract code libraries for things like SIMD instructions and GPU utilization are already a step in that direction.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    skatmanskatman Posts: 609member
    Orion is complete vapor now for sure. They were basing their designs on Transmeta 1.6 GHz Efficeons. Problem is, Transmeta doesn't make hardware anymore.

    Even if they would, most of the claims that these guys make aren't even in the ballpark of being true. Ask anyone who does any serious scientific calculations.



    BTW, just tested dual Opteron 275 (2.2 GHz) system today, and for running quantum chemistry calculations, this is a seious new benchmark in power/watt arena!
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