As a child, who didn't enjoy smashing their now valuable Matchbox cars together? It was a popular pastime for many of us, but most of us outgrew this destructive hobby. Those who didn't had two paths for employment, demolition derby driver or particle physicist, the choice for many was clear but the educational requirements for driving an '89 Buick LeSabre into a '76 Chevy Monte Carlo proved too much. The choice for the rest became clear: work with one of the largest particle accelerators in the world (damn you Fermilab!) It turns out since the Intel transition CERN has found Apple an even more attractive partner to smash their proverbial matchbox cars with.
In 2007 Cern will use Macintosh hardware to help run their Large Ion Colluder Experiments, in their soon to be online, Large Hadron Colluder. The Intel Macs will help produce over ten petabytes of data a year according to the Apple article. Coordinator Federico Carminati had this to say:
“Now that Apple has moved to Intel processors, we see real opportunities to use the Mac as our main computational engine […] Apple is a very nice solution which offers two environments in one system — UNIX processing power and the world of office applications”.
Carminati went on to say that given similar performance the multimedia value of the Mac is easily the decider. He claims that compile time for many applications has shrunk from an hour and thirty minutes to ten minutes. Although many of the developers use Linux for development inside CERN, if the Mac tests continue to be positive that could change as well according to Carminati.
This of course can't be taken as anything but good news for Apple that one of the worlds most revered scientific institutions is adding more Apple hardware to their kit, and staying open minded towards the future.
It might also mean good news for Apple's customer base. With all of CERN's emphasis on Intel hardware one might find it peculiar part of the Apple solution for them was Xserve hardware, making us wonder whether CERN is getting a little early Intel Xserve loving, and whether that means we can look forward to the same "real soon now."