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Instant Nostalgia Available at Supercomputer Speeds

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You can purchase a refurbished piece of Macintosh history; MacMall is selling some quantity of the Power Mac G5 computers that comprised Virginia Tech's top-ranked supercomputer. If you recall the story, the university purchased 1,100 dual-processor 2 GHz Power Mac G5s from the initial run of Apple's 64-bit desktop computer. A few months later, the massive cluster system ranked as the number three supercomputer in the world, and at a fraction of the cost per teraflop (trillion floating point operations per second) as numbers one and two.

<http://computing.vt.edu/research_computing/ terascale/>
<http://db.tidbits.com/article/07489>

After Steve Jobs announced G5-based rack-mounted Xserves, which use 40 percent less power and occupy one-third as much space as the G5 towers, Virginia Tech committed to a quick upgrade. Speculation abounds, too, that Apple will supply Virginia Tech with dual 2.5 GHz G5 processors, which are possible with the smaller and lower-powered newer G5 chip.

Of course, the university's announcement in late January led many to ask what would become of the Power Mac G5s being rotated out of service. Would they be given or sold to Virginia Tech students? Slashdot devoted a long thread to amusing comments.

<http://biz.yahoo.com/rc/040126/tech_ virginiatech_apple_1.html>
<http://apple.slashdot.org/apple/04/01/27/ 1257256.shtml?tid=107&tid=187>

MacMall has the answer: they're selling off the machines as Apple-warrantied refurbished units for $2,800 each. A comparable new computer (which includes no modem and 1 GB of RAM instead of the 512 MB of a stock dual G5) costs $3,220 purchased directly from the Apple Store.

<http://www.macmall.com/macmall/promotions/ custom.asp?p=supercomputer>

If you were to buy one of these machines, you might wonder if, late at night, it might reach out over the Internet to its former rack mates and exchange some long polynomials just for old time's sake.

 

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