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Virginia Tech G5 supercomputer upgraded to 2.3GHz Xserves

Thanks to an exclusive offering from Apple Computer, Virginia Tech's G5-based "System X" supercomputer cluster in now more powerful than ever.

The cluster—comprised of 1100 G5-based dual processor cluster nodes—was recently upgraded to 2.3 GHz Apple Xserves, AppleInsider confirmed this week.

This latest boost represents the cluster's second transformation in less than a year. Due to a stringent need for error correcting code (ECC) RAM, in January—a mere three months after its inception—System X was overhauled from dual-processor Power Mac G5s to dual-2GHz Xserve G5s.

Officials at the university's Terascale Computing Facility said the new 2.3GHz Xserves began arriving in mid-June. Aside from sporting slightly faster G5 processors, the units are said to be identical to the company's existing 2GHz Xserves.

But browsing Apple's web site and online store yields no mention of Xserves running at speeds beyond 2GHz; that's because the servers are reportedly unique to System X and are not available for purchase by the general public.

COLSA Corp, which is home to the larger MACH5 Apple G5 supercomputer cluster, has yet to see upgrades from its current dual-2GHz Xserve G5s. However, program director, Mike Whitlock, told AppleInsider that COLSA and Apple have formed long term agreements for the further development of the cluster,

Although Whitlock offered few details on the arrangement, he said that COLSA is expecting its first update to the 1,566 node cluster in January, suggesting that Apple may officially refresh its Xserve G5 line early next year.

Apple introduced the XServe G5 in January 2004, claiming top speeds of 2GHz. But mistakenly placed graphics on the company's Canadian web site briefly advertised the servers at speeds of up to 2.3GHz.

If recent events are any indication, it's likely that Apple had originally intended to introduce the Xserve G5 at speeds of up to 2.3GHz, but were later forced to surrender the higher-end configuration due to a shortage of the speedier G5 chips from IBM.

Representatives from Apple declined to comment on the report.