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OS X Businesses Operating Systems Apple Hardware

Army Contractor To Build A 1566 Xserve Cluster 465

olePigeon (Wik) writes "MacCentral has an interesting article on a new computer cluster. From the article: 'Apple Computer Inc. will announce on Monday the sale of 1566 dual processor 1U rack-mount 64-bit Xserve G5 servers to COLSA Corp., which will be used to build what is expected to be one of the fastest supercomputers in the world. The US$5.8 million cluster will be used to model the complex aero-thermodynamics of hypersonic flight for the U.S. Army.'" alset_tech was one of the many readers to point to CNET's version of the story.
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Army Contractor To Build A 1566 Xserve Cluster

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  • I don't know, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:52PM (#9491273)
    Apple does have this [].
  • by laird ( 2705 ) <> on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:54PM (#9491291) Journal
    This sounds like a killer system, but I don't follow the performance numbers.

    The 1655 CPU cluster is expected to deliver 25 Tflops, while the Virginia Tech machine, with 1,100 CPU's (if I remember properly) is rated at 10 Tflops. What else is different? Are they using a different interconnect? Clever programmers to get closer to peak? Or is it something silly like a journalist switching between peak and measured performance, or between computers and CPU's (assuming dual G5 Xserves)? Or is the G5 Xserve really _that_ much faster than the G5 desktop measures VA Tech was benchmarked with? I _like_ that idea...
  • Re:I wonder.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by fmorgan ( 235244 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:56PM (#9491307)
    That's not true. The CPU is IBM's but the I/O controllers and other chips are all Apple made.

    check this InfoWorld comparison of Opteron systems with the XserveG5, bi ts_1.html
  • Not 1100 CPU's (Score:5, Informative)

    by System.out.println() ( 755533 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:58PM (#9491329) Journal
    Not sure if it helps your math, but the VT cluster had 1100 G5's, with 2 CPU's each for 2200 CPU's.
  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:00PM (#9491349) Journal
    Each machine is dual processor.

    VT used non-ECC machines, so safeguards took up some of the processing power.

    Current XServes use ECC memory, so that should provide more overall computing power and provide a higher final score.

    Different interconnect can also have a greater effect.

    And finally, yeah, I reckon that this could be peak results. I remember VT had a peak of aroun 19TFlops? I don't remember the exact details.
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Conossuer ( 649474 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:00PM (#9491354)
    This will more than likely be used for R&D with regards to rockets, from anti air craft to ICBMs.
  • Defense $$$ (Score:5, Informative)

    by kwishot ( 453761 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:01PM (#9491356)
    "US$5.8 million"

    I'm a grunt in the USMC (former computer geek...who would have figured?)
    Anyways... I'm about to go *back* to Iraq in September.
    The high brass has some f*ed up priorities some times.... the army has $5.8mil to contract out *research* to some company for technology what.... 10-15 years away at the minimum?
    Meanwhile the Marine Corps is scraping nickles and dimes to get us basic equipment the army has had for most of a decade.
    Hell, when we go to the field to train, we often have to yell "bang! bang!" because we don't get enough (or any) blank rounds for training.
    Imagine if they took just ONE Osprey off the project..... maybe then I wouldn't have a hand-me-down-from-the-army m16a2 (does the army use them anymore?)
  • by andreMA ( 643885 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:02PM (#9491367)
    I blieve the 25 Tflop figure is a typo. I've read 15Tflop elsewhere

    And they're also using plain gigabit ethernet for interconnects, not Infiniband, supposedly because the applications they plan to run don't require a lot of I/O bandwidth.

  • Re:Defense $$$ (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:06PM (#9491400) Journal
    When I was over in Saudi, for Desert Storm, we had the original M-16's issued to us, with no forward assist. You had one shot and then a rather fragile baseball bat. We also had our .38 Special revolvers. I guess we could shoot ourselves if we were overrun. Gotta' love life in the Air Force Reserves.
  • Re:True purpose (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:19PM (#9491491)
    Then why the two bills [] in front of the House and Senate having to do with the draft?
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:21PM (#9491503) Homepage
    Not a lot of bombs that fly hypersonic.

    Tank and artillery shells, on the other hand...
  • Re:I wonder.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:29PM (#9491573)
    Actually, the ASIC and probably other chips are made in IBM chip plants but they are designed by Apple.
  • by Jim McCoy ( 3961 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:40PM (#9491646) Homepage
    I think that the reason you don't have any good equipment is because the USMC and the USN blew their allowance on a wasted IT upgrade from EDS. You know, that 7 _BILLION_ dollar contract which has already triggered SEC investigations for fraud.

    Want to bitch about not having bullets? Look to your own leadership and stop whining about how the Army is going to spend its budget.
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:45PM (#9491670) Homepage Journal
    " Isn't hypersonic flight research better suited to the Air Force?

    How about some hypersonic sub-orbital artillery [] with your fries, Sir? Granted that's the navy version, but whatcha wanna bet that the Army could put a land based platform to good use?
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:46PM (#9491675) Homepage Journal
    I suppose a bomb with a rocket attached to it is classified as a missile. I can see it being a possible hypersonic-jet missle. I think one US armed service has something that is hypersonic but it is a rocket and not a jet.

    A jet can use air as one fuel component, a rocket has to carry all of its combustibles. Anyhow, at these speeds, one doesn't need explosives, the kinetic energy from such a hypersonic jet-missle is enough to cause plenty of damage.
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:55PM (#9491741) Homepage
    The A-10 is not operated by the Army. The Army tried to buy all the A-10's from the Air Force, but the Air Force didn't want the army to operate them. So they gave them to the Air Force Reserves.

    It all comes from the WW2 era pissing contest which made the Air Force a separate branch from the Army. It is a pretty silly distinction, to everybody except the Air Force, to whom it is Holy Writ.

    And you're right re: the bombs. That was my original (oblique) point. : )
  • Re:True purpose (Score:2, Informative)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:56PM (#9491744)
    Because the two Democrats who proposed the bills are using it merely to snipe at the administration.

    [from MSNBC] []
    "In the past year, some lawmakers have urged that a draft for military service be reintroduced, most notably New York Rep. Charlie Rangel and South Carolina Sen. Fritz Hollings, both Democrats, who have sponsored bills to that effect, primarily as a way to protest against war in Iraq. Though both bills (S. 89 and H.R. 163) remain stuck in committeeand Sen. Hollings was unable even to garner any cosponsors for his bill"

    The Army/Air Force/Navy neither wants nor needs a draft.
  • by cynical kane ( 730682 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:56PM (#9491746)
    Vector processing. SSE for Intel and AMD, AltiVec for the G5, and 3DNow for AMD all are instruction sets that allow one to manipulate vectors of 4 floats or 2 doubles (or other assortments) as though they are one operand.
  • Re:I wonder.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by khuber ( 5664 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:57PM (#9491749)
    I stand corrected. It looks like Xserves do support ECC 5.html []
  • by danharan ( 714822 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:57PM (#9491755) Journal
    GI Rights Hotline [] might be useful if you find yourself uncomfortable with the answers you come up with.
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @12:09AM (#9491828) Homepage
    The Army is indeed testing a hypersonic anti-tank missile that launches from a box mounted atop a HMMWV. A buddy of mine worked on the guidance system.

    As a matter of fact, a lot of Lockheed Martin's next-gen missiles are kinetic kill vehicles: No explosives, just a lot a lot a lot of velocity.
  • by tupps ( 43964 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @12:22AM (#9491913) Homepage
    They are rebuilding it with X-Serves now. I beleive that the get a 3 times increase in density (eg 3 XServers to 1 powermac).

  • by andreMA ( 643885 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @12:27AM (#9491929)
    This press release [] from the contractor seems pretty adamant about claiming 25TF, asserting "second only to the Earth Simulator" which seems to exclude a simple numeric typo.

    Both c|net [] and Mac Rumors [] say 15, though, which is as you say much more plausible. Given the degree of confusion, I wouldn't be too sure about other details such as interconnects or price tags... or even number of nodes; perhaps 1566 is an initial confuguration, later growing signifigantly larger to account for the 25TF figure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @12:33AM (#9491959)
    One thing to note is that vector processing doesn't help the G5 on the linpack benchmark (what the top 500 list uses). Altivec only helps single precision calculations. Good for games and graphics, but not desirable for many scientific calculations.

    It's the fact that the G5 can dispatch two floating point operations per cycle (like the Athlon's fpu) and that it has a fused multiply/add instruction that can be done in 1 cycle. This effectively gives it the ability to do 4 flops/cycle.

    So the theoretical peak is given by 1566 xserves * 2 cpus each * 2 GHz * 4 flops/cycle = 25.056 teraflops/s
  • by menem ( 533901 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @12:54AM (#9492076)
    In order for Kurzweil's AI to work, it isnt enough to have 100Tflop. Kurzweil based the 100Tflop number on the idea that we would have algorithms available to replace the brain functions such as vision, pattern recognition, etc.. Just using a simple neural simulator would require many orders magnitude more of power to simulate a human brain. We are a long ways from having the needed algorithms (probably 30 years at a mininum).
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @12:56AM (#9492082) Homepage
    If you drop a bomb from orbit, the bomb will stay in orbit.

    Why would you operate a platform that can launch missiles from orbit, when you can launch them from guided missile cruisers or loitering aircraft a hell of a lot cheaper?
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hungus ( 585181 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @01:08AM (#9492119) Journal
    And the reason for this is because the mass is traveling faster than the wavefront of the explosion would. Seriously an explosive would only disrupt the kinetics. There was a call for shoulder fired hyper-velocity missiles a few years back, I have no idea what happened with them.
  • by ArsSineArtificio ( 150115 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @01:23AM (#9492185) Homepage
    The nation of Canada has a great deal to be proud of, but your points border on the ridiculous.

    Canada as always beaten the crap out of the US of A ( see your history book ladies of the US ).

    "Canada" has been at war with the United States twice - once during the American Revolution and once during the War of 1812. On neither occasion was the United States fighting "Canada", because that nation was not yet founded. It was however fighting the British Army in His Majesty's colonies of Upper and Lower Canada. On both occasions the British Army repelled an American invasion of Canada. On the latter occasion the American army also repelled a British invasion of the western United States from Canada. Your statement is, to say the least, a little simplistic.

    Whe have one of the biggest country ( in territory ) with one of the smallest army in number of unit in the world.

    Canada is defended by the armed forces and nuclear arsenal of the United States (and, for that matter, the other NATO countries). It is therefore unsurprising that it has a small "army in number of unit".

    Whe have the best nuclear reactor and MEDICAL nuclear program in the world but NO NUCLEAR FOR WEAPON program even do whe know how and can build in 30 minutes the best nuke in the world, whe CHOOSED not to.

    Setting aside the easy jokes about limited grammatical technology, Canada has not constructed any nuclear weapons because nuclear attacks on Canada would trigger retaliation from the United States. It's not likely that Canada could design and construct a nuclear weapon in "30 minutes the best nuke in the world", but it's certainly clear that any modern industrialized nation could manufacture a nuclear weapon with comparatively little trouble, especially if a substantial nuclear facilities complex is already in place. It's not really obvious what this has to do with being better than anyone else.

    Whe have -"NO"- Known enemy.

    Well, according to this story reprinted from the National Post, Al-Qaeda has declared that Canada must be destroyed [], because it is part of Dar ul-Harb. I can understand the strong desire to want to pretend that everything's just fine, but it should be pointed out that only one side has to agree in order to have a war.

  • by Donny Smith ( 567043 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @01:57AM (#9492350)
    when they can act as one system they become a cluster. when ur compute task can run on it as on single system u can call it a supercomputer.
    these divisions are quite arbitrary, of course.
    c cessing

    white boxes aren't any cheaper - they take up expensive server room space. and with the current technology white boxes require dramatically more complicated cabling and hence their setup is more expensive (labor intesive), maintenance as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @02:12AM (#9492413)
    Actually Switzerland did collaborate with the Nazi's that is how they stayed safe during WWII, not because them Germans were afraid of the Swiss army (laughable at best).

    Since every nation needs Switzerland somehow, they have managed to be allowed to "exist." Not because of military might, but rahter due to very clever positioning in the global community, and of course everybody needs the Swiss banking system.
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hungus ( 585181 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @03:15AM (#9492653) Journal
    APFSDS would be "Armour Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot", but that is a tank munition and I know for a fact that you don't want to shoulder fire a tank round. :)

    This was supposed to be javelen sized and used a delpleted uranium core. I believe the payload was ultimately pencil sized. lets say it was 5mm in diameter and 10cm shaft of uranium moving at Mach 7 well, doing some google math gives me
    (((((.25^2) * pi * 10 * .0190508) / 2) * (2320.5^2)) / 4.18400) * 9.0779184e-07 = 0.0218509768kg of dynamite
    in laymans terms. which certainly doesn;t sound like much until you realize that that force is exerted on an area of .196cm^2 and it is 100,710.849 joules applied in 1/23205 of a second or 2.33699525 × 10^09 watts yes that 2.33 gigawatts applied to .196cm^2 Now thats a lot of juice
  • Re:Torn between... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Silas is back ( 765580 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @04:38AM (#9492932) Homepage Journal

    I guess about 90% of swiss males hate to do the army-service. You have to do training for 3 weeks every other year (schweizer: keine details. ;-) ).
    Anyway, almost every one of them has a Stgw 90 at home, no SIG or whatever you call it. It was developed by the swiss army.

    should I say that I am from switzerland? =)

  • by joib ( 70841 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @05:12AM (#9493030)
    The linpack benchmark used for ranking the top500 isn't that bandwidth and latency sensitive. That's why you see lots of clusters ranking highly, even though they have low performance interconnects, in some cases only Gb ethernet.

    Apparently the 25 TFlops figure is the peak performance, while the expected max performance in linpack will be about 15 TFlops. This sound reasonable compared to bigmac (something like 17 Tflops peak, 10 TFlops max IIRC), considering that this one has 1.5 times as many cpu:s.
  • Re:Why the Army? (Score:4, Informative)

    by bonkedproducer ( 715249 ) <paul.paulcouture@com> on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @06:33AM (#9493220) Homepage Journal
    As a six year (Ch)Air Farce errr, force vet, let me 'splain you sumthin' Lucy!

    Ok, the A-10 is not operated by Army personnel. A big part of the reasoning by the DOD (not the Air Force) for not selling/transferring the A-10 to the Army in the early 90s was the fact that it would have been highly cost prohibative to train the support personnel, and purchase the proper maint. equip. for the birds, and the weapons systems.

    The A-10 is an awesome bird - the only one ever built specifically around a gun. The GAU-8/A 30MM Gatling gun is quite effective at turning the enemy into "pink mist and bone chips" but is a pain in the rear to keep maintained and loaded. This is the primary reason that the Air Force, who had trained, qualified personnel and equipment, as well as bases , etc. kept the A-10. Not because of some 50 year old pissing contest (by the way the only pissing contests I can ever remember were AF/Navy or AF with Army/Dept. Navy because the AF still views the Army as more of a sister service.)

    The AF provides ground based combat controllers to Army units (the reason you will occasionally see blue suiters with ranger patches etc.) to do ATC for CAS (close air support) with the Army - but the Army doesn't always have one of these ground controllers handy, so they train their people how to communicate with the pilots of the A-10 and v/v - That is why they are involved in the A-10 Training Simulator.
  • Re:Another misspell (Score:2, Informative)

    by kylector ( 650096 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:46AM (#9494257)
    Because 1337 is leet (elite) speak. It's a hax0r joke. A juvenile might write that headline as such:

    Army Contractor To Build A 1337 Xserve Cluster

    And it would still make sense, believe it or not. It'd be like saying "...To Build A Sweet/Cool/Awesome Xserve." It was a joke because only juveniles use 1337-speak and the parent was being sarcastic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @04:30PM (#9499168)
    Keynesian economics requires none of the hand-waving you need to make Reaganomics seem sensible.

    That has to be the most laughable statement about economics I've heard all year. You want hand-waving? How about the idea that the government spending money it doesn't have can magically make us all better off? Yes, it may increase GDP in the short run, but I have never heard a believable explanation about why we are actually better off because of it (and no, the "money multiplier" argument is not believable).

    Make Reaganomics seem sensible? Look at New Zealand around 1984, when it elected a reform government. The reform government cut taxes by about half -- and ended up with about 20% more revenue. (You can read about it in an Imprimis article [] by Maurice P. McTigue, former New Zealand Parliament member.) Part of this was due to simplification of the tax code, which provided less incentive for individuals and businesses to search out "loopholes" in the tax law; but I doubt that would account for all of the increase. In any case, as far as I know most economists don't argue that the Laffer curve is in itself incorrect; it's a debate over what exactly the curve looks like and where we are on it.


If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error. -- John Kenneth Galbraith