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Terra Soft, the company behind the Yellow Dog and Black Lab Linux PowerPC distros has released a supercomputer cluster based on Apple's iMac. They're teaming up with Marathon Computers of Nashville Tennessee, who have been building Apple PowerPC-based racks for several years.

Each unit is comprised of eight of Marathon's "iRacks": an iMac but without the monitor or casing. Marathon sells its tower Macs to musicians, ISPs or for speciaised lab applications such as data acquisition, the company's marketing honcho Michael Roland tells us, with the bulk of the business being G4s.

So we wondered if this could qualify as the world's quietest supercomputer cluster, as the iMacs are celebrated for not having a noisy case fan. It's not exactly silent says Roland, as Marathon does provide a system fan for the cluster. But it's still pretty quiet for the MIPS you're getting.

And it makes perfect sense. The Power chip's floating point performance is commendably high, particularly in using the Altivec co-processor, and as the system boards are produced in volume they are relatively much cheaper than Power boards from IBM. And Black Lab Linux - Terra Soft's parallel version of its Yellow Dog distro that comes in nifty nylon packaging is already in use at Sandia and Los Alamos research labs.

The cluster's chief boast is that it is lighter and more portable than its predecessors. Systems start at $17,900.

And there you have it. We've managed to mention "carry home", "portable" and "Los Alamos Labs" without succumbing to the obvious cheap gag. So we'll stop right here. ®

Related Links

Marathon Computing
Terra Soft

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