Future of the Mac

A Macintosh to Rival Cray?

by Laser Quasar Absolutely

(That's not really my real name... but does it really matter? I mean, really?)

what's been happening at UCLA's Appleseedweb site (see
http://exodus.physics.ucla.edu/appleseed/appleseed.html as well as related
URLs like http://www.mactimes.com/bin/news/index.pl?read=382, among

No: correction. I hope folks at Apple have
been paying attention.

For those who haven't been paying attention, let me summarise in just one sentence. At
UCLA they've purchased a few G3 Macs, hooked them up together with 100Base-T
Ethernet, added some special software of their own, and hey presto, they have what they
like to call "A Parallel Macintosh Cluster for Numerically Intensive Computing -- A Plug
and Play Parallel Computer".

Fab, eh?

The G3s work hard in the daytime as individual Macs, and at night, when the users have
gone home, the entire cluster crunches numbers by the googolplex in massively parallel

And as they say at Appleseed, "Unlike Unix-based clusters, no special expertise in
operating systems is required to build and run the cluster".

This is the real world, guys and gals, not some theoretical Christmas
wish list! The darn thing does work, and it works now.

Not only does it work, processor for processor it works almost as well as a top-of-the-line
Cray T3E-900. Check out the charts on the Appleseed web site. (And just in case you
didn't know, "The CRAY T3E-900 system has the world's highest computer performance
available, and is the first and only commercially available teraflops system on the market"
-- according to the page describing this mammoth at Cray's Web site, accessible at http://www.cray.com/news/9611/crayt3e900.html).

Of course a Cray T3E-900 can have thousands of processors, while Appleseeds are still
small. But they're scalable -- check out the Appleseed FAQ sheet. So if you keep adding
PowerPC chips to a G3 cluster, and hook them up with real high bandwidth connections,
soon you could be rivalling the very best there is!

And just in case you were wondering, yes, the tactic would work with
iMacs too. (You school principals out there with the next two dozen
iMacs on order, are you listening?)

Yep. This is the Big Apple. Growing from little Appleseed. (Sorry. Bad pun. But then again,
I like puns).

But then again (again), why isn't Apple doing anything about it?
I understand all this is being done without any help from Cupertino.

And you know what? Cupertino could help a lot. Correction: Cupertino should help a lot.
Wouldn't it be in their best interest to do so?

By doing so Apple could put itself in the big leagues -- and here big means BIG!

And once in the big leagues, no longer will the mainstream press be able to thumb its nose
at Apple. Isn't Apple the company the media loves to hate?

So what could Apple do?

For starters, why does such a cluster need several G3 Macs? All it really needs are several
G3 processors. Along, of course, with their backside caches, the necessary RAM, and a
really big RAID.

But who needs all those multiple CD-ROM and floppy drives? Not to mention the serial
ports. Or the modems.

And why limit connections to 100Base-T Ethernet, when there are such things as Gigabit
Ethernet in use already, and Terabit Ethernet just round the corner? Not to mention
FireWire, Apple's own baby. As the Appleseeds say in their FAQ sheet, "After all, a faster
network is a lot of what you're paying for in a Cray."

Apple could trim all the flab, and create a lean and mean
supercomputer to rival Cray's pride and joy.

And Apple could also come up with the software to run it. Hey: don't they have the best and
brightest in Unix (formerly working for NeXT) on their team now?

And all this for a fraction of the cost of a Cray!

It wouldn't take long, either. A few months, tops. By next spring  -- or next fall, latest -- if Apple
plays its cards right, you, too, could order a drag-and-drop SuperMac from CompUSA. In
Rainbow Hue this time, not just in Bondi Blue.

And then you, too, could challenge IBM to a chess match. (Heck, Garry Kasparov wouldn't
stand a chance).

                                                                                        ....would Windows?

Laser Quasar Absolutely
...(not his real name -- but you figured that out already, right?) ...calls himself a "Thinker", especially 
about the future. He thinks that's where he'll be spending the rest of his life (but who's he kidding, eh? 
Doesn't he realize it's always going to be now?)

Most people say to him "You can't be serious" -- and they're right, he can't. (But then, who can be 
serious about the future, seeing as how anything can happen in it, and usually does ...er, will?)

His best book -- indeed his only book -- is entitled The Seventh Generation,and its shareware version 
in Adobe Acrobat format is available for download from his alter ego's web site (under construction right 
now) at http://cpu2308.adsl.bellglobal.com. (Just $5.00 -- cheap! And well worth it, though he says so 
himself). Check it out.

And send him e-mail: he loves feedback!

For Free Macintosh Hardware Click Here