Apple presented its Workgroup Cluster for Bioinformatics at ClusterWorld Conference and Expo yesterday.

Apple describes its Workgroup Cluster for Bioinformatics as "an all-inclusive system with everything a non-technical bench scientist needs to set up, operate, and maintain a small, computational cluster with little or no support required from IT departments".

Apple product manager for server hardware Doug Brooks said: "Bioinformatics researchers today are commonly running large scientific simulations and doing analyses of immense biological datasets using a wide range of commercial and open source applications. Advancements in computer technology have paved the way for these researchers to gain scientific insights never before imaginable with greater efficiencies in workflow and productivity.

At the same time, constant business pressures to lower operating costs, IT requirements for more practical alternatives to large symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) systems, and user needs for faster job turn-arounds and productivity gains are driving the trend in scalable computational clusters."

Apple's solution is based on the G5 Xserve cluster. It also features iNquiry created by The BioTeam. iNquiry is a ready-to-use cluster and web portal optimized for use in life science informatics settings. It comes pre-configured with 200 open source scientific applications and can be extended to support additional commercial, open source or internally-developed applications.

According to The BioTeam: "Bench scientists, with little or no assistance from their IT department, can deploy iNquiry on the Xserve via a unique self-deployment method that uses an external firewire drive as a cluster installation and configuration device -- in an average of 30 minutes."

The Apple Workgroup Cluster featuring BioTeam's iNquiry recently won the Best of Show award at Bio-IT World Expo and Conference in Boston.