Terra Soft Provides HPC System

By Deane Barker on August 7, 2003

Terra Soft Solutions have recently announced the sale of 260 Apple xServe units to Lockheed Martin for use in sonar imaging by the Navy. They’ll be running a variant of Yellow Dog Linux instead of OS X.

“This combination provides a solution twice as dense, less power consumptive, and higher performance than the previous solution at a similar cost.”

The XServe is Apple’s entry into the rack server market, but what’s the point if they’re running Linux (albeit Yellow Dog Linux) instead of OS X? Without OS X, aren’t they just another server? Is the PowerPC really that much better?



  1. Why xServes, especially when Apple’s processors are so far behind Intel et al when it comes to mHZ? One point to consider is that Apple has already started shipping G5 units, and the servers that will be delivered very likely will have IBM G5 processors under the hood. Also look at the history of Jobsian Apple/Intel comparisons, and how consistently better Apple has been at image processing. What role will Lockheed Martin & the Navy be using these things? Sonar imaging systems. And why Yellow Dog instead of OS X? All that pretty Aqua GUI takes more than its share of processor overhead, so running raw Linux would leave more cycles for real work. Not to complain about Aqua, but it’s a waste on anything but a desktop machine.

  2. The Mhz to Mhz comparisons between Intel and Apple machines don’t count for much, since Apple has been running RISC processors for a very long time. I’m sure xServes are pretty snappy. What I don’t get is why you would buy a PowerPC box to run Linux. Most of the Linux software out there is primarily written on x86’s, and while most of it will compile fine on a PPC machine, a lot of stuff has not been rigorously tested on that platform. I’m sure the Navy has plenty of time to waste fixing all the problems that crop up from running on PPC. Let’s just hope they obey the GPL’s and donate that work back to the community (not likely).

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