Turn your Macs into a supercomputer with Xgrid Preview 2

Apple’s Xgrid Preview 2 “makes it easy to submit a long-running computation to an ad-hoc grid of Macintosh computers, so that it takes less time than it would on a single system. Building on its first preview, the new additions to Xgrid Preview 2 are a tool for submitting and monitoring jobs from the command-line, Message Passing Interface (MPI) support that allows it to configure and launch executables linked against MacMPI libraries, and numerous bug fixes,” CXOtoday reports.

“The grid software turns a group of Macs into a virtual supercomputer, so that they can work on problems faster than each could individually solve. Xgrid can operate in a screensaver mode, allowing unoccupied Macs to crunch away at some data set. Users can also configure a group of Macs dedicated to a specific task, and set up a cluster that works around the clock, every day of the year,” CXOtoday reports.

Xgrid uses Apple’s Rendezvous to discover available resources. Which means administrators do not have to enter IP addresses to set up a cluster. Xgrid Preview 2 supports Mac OS X v10.2.8 or later and requires a minimum of 128MB RAM. More info and download link here.


  1. Wow. This is what innovation is really about (are you listening Microsoft?)

    Only Apple could bring this sort of idea to the average Mac user,
    Only Apple could put a easy GUI on something as complicated as distributed computing.

    You can see why Microsoft always tries to stifle innovation, to crush or absorb companies before they get a chance of getting ahead. You can also see why IT Managers are scared sh**less over Apple.

    They’d say, “Distributed computing that’s so easy to set up that you don’t need an army of support staff to set it up and keep it running? Never! The next thing you’ll be saying is that Mac-users can easily install software, fonts, drivers, configure entire networks by themselves!”

  2. Could I like – set up a render here in my dorm building w/ the other mac users?

    I mean, what software can use this? Could Maya? Shake? Final Cut Pro? … Photoshop even…?

    Like I said, I’m in a dorm (primarily for computer arts, so there’s a ton of mac users), and a ton of un harnessed CPU power…

  3. From the Xgrid supplied PDF file…

    — start quote —

    Xgrid has no real limitations on the amount of computational power it can support. The performance of the grid is dependent on the systems participating, the software running, and the network, among other factors. When set up optimally, and for easily parallelizable, loosely coupled algorithm implementations, a number M of 1 GHz computers running Xgrid can work together for an effective clock speed of nearly M GHz.

    � Ease of configuration. Easier to set up than other enterprise clustering solutions.
    � Ease of use.
    – Does not require clients to use the command line (but that capability is there for those who prefer it).
    – Hides complex architecture for software and data distribution, job execution, and result aggregation.
    – Uses Rendezvous for automatic discovery of available Xgrid controllers ? Security. Supports the UNIX security model.
    � Extendibility. Provides a plug-in architecture that allows developers to extend the functionality of Xgrid clusters.
    � Broad applicability. Aims to support all grid computational needs, not just those of bioinformatics, fluid dynamics, or another specific science.

    — end quote —

    I am having a difficult time trying to find something comparable at Microsoft.com for use on XP (Pro of course). I am SURE that such a huge software giant would have developed this long ago for a computer OS that has been around for so long. I did find something for server clusters, but nothing for a business or school being able to utilize the computational power and resources of idle individual computers.

    The Xgrid PDF is worth reading, especially if you work in a Mac friendly office. Xgrid can be set up similar to SETI, and utilize the computers while they are idle (in its special screensaver mode). Get those anim renderings done in a flash while everyone is at lunch.

    Many colleges already have their own super computers but don’t realize it. By taking the Macs scattered across the campus (offices, libraries, labs, even kiosks), and easily installing the FREE Xgrid, they would have an instant super computer during off-peak hours, and it doesn’t take up any extra space or staff.

  4. Somewhere I read about a similar project by Sun Microsystems, designed for Linux (??) or a special flavor of it, and yet on the market to boost Sun’s server sales.

  5. Dean.. Yes. As far as I know (from what I have read) the software has to be built to distribute the work as well. So your software would have to make their software
    XGrid compatible.”

  6. I run distributing computing projects for Stanford University and are eagerly awaiting implementation of the X-Grid technology, not only for scientific applications, but for everyday usage.

    Photoshop renders, Lightwave renders, even the next state of the art games, can all very easily break their jobs amongst the network of computers.

    Sure Ethernet is slow, but a simple PCI-X card and fiber optic cable and that will take care of the latency issue.

    I can’t wait to buy and build my plug and play Bewoulf Cluster!

    Oh yea baby!!

  7. Wow, played with it today and entered some command line stuff via the shell, it was neat to watch my tachometer swing up to 4 Ghz and back down again.

    Makes me want to add a bunch more computers to it.

    They are making a Unix baby out of me yet. Bye bye childish Macs, we are entering a whole new phase of Apple. A much more serious Apple.

    can you feel the change? No more goofy behavior, Apple is getting lean and mean.

    Microsoft has peaked and is dying, it’s time for Apple to take over the world.

  8. omg, that’s one of the coolest things i’ve ever seen in my life. i want every mac i can find now, slow or fast.

    heavy compiling session? have everyone bring their powerbooks over, and plug ’em into the network…

    network gaming…faster computers help the slower computers run smoother…

    i’m about to freak out here…so many possibilities….

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