University of Illinois’ Apple Xserve Turing Cluster could peak at nearly 10 teraflops

The University of Illinois’ new Turing Cluster is located in the Digital Computer Laboratory and consists of 640 Apple Xserves, each with two 2 GHz G5 processors and 4 GB of RAM, for a total of 1280 processors. The primary network connecting the cluster machines is a high-bandwidth, low-latency Myrinet network from Myricom. In addition, all machines in the cluster are also connected by a 100 Mbs switched, full-duplex Ethernet using switches from Cisco Systems, and there is a 1 Gbs link between the front-end array and the primary Cisco switch. The operating system for the Turing Cluster is Mac OS X Server, currently version 10.3.

“The cluster is housed in a newly renovated server room that can handle a cooling load of up to 550,000 BTU per hour and supports over 45 tons of cooling capacity using four distinct cooling systems — three of which can adequately support the cluster at any given time,” AppleInsider reports. “In the near future, the University hopes to be able to perform tests to rank the cluster’s computational ability, which, according to its specifications, could peak at nearly 10 teraflops.” AppleInsider also reports that the possibility exists that the University may consider “expanding the cluster to 1280 nodes, double its current size” in the future.

More info and photos here.


  1. I wonder what Dell’s market share is in the new Univerity SuperComputer Market. I bet it’s lower than Apple’s. BTW Michael- the iPod, not the “Dell Digital Junkbox”, will be coming to a Wal-Mart near you.

  2. Yes, that is fast. That is fast enough to make the top 10 of fastest super computers in the world.

    The VA Tech runs at about 10.28 Teraflops (it is ranked 3rd world wide)

  3. The Myrinet interconnect appears to be significantly faster than the Infiband used at the Virginia Tech install. VT used 1100 dual 2.3ghz to get 12+ teraflop.

    The less glamorous aspect of these announcements is not the performance – it is the energy consumption. We don’t even think about it with a desktop, or an iMac, or a Powerbook, but the absolute dividend of the G4 and G5 architectures is the small footprint which minimizes the energy requirements. Significant time was devoted to this issue at the XServe presentations during the Worldwide Developers Conference.

    These boxes are killers from every cost/performance perspective, especially energy to run and keep cool.

  4. Supercomputer, Supercomputer, Supercomputer, Supercomputer, Supercomputer, Supercomputer, Supercomputer. I want my software to run on a supercomputer…
    (Ballmer seen dancing round his office)

  5. In related news Dell has just announced a cluster type computer which is expected to be so fast that it will not be rated in teraflops – but rather “belly-flops.”

    Responding to this news, Ballmer of Microsoft was quoted as saying, “we invented belly-flops!”

  6. homer,

    A flops is a FLoating-point Operation Per Second. Supercomputers measure speed by how much math they can do not the megahertz rating of their processors. This way, supercomputers with completely different architectures can be compared realistically.

  7. Holy sh*t, that server room has some manly cooling capacity (from someone who works in commercial HVAC, that’s a compliment).

    I wonder what they’d need if the place ran Intel chips. Magnetic containment?? We don’t have reactor technology on that scale yet. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

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