In the words of Hassan Aref, the dean of the college of engineering at Virginia Tech, thanks to Apple: "Yesterday's supercomputers have suddenly become affordable."

Discussing the comparably low cost of the Virginia Tech supercomputer in an article for Cnet, Aref explains: "That is extremely good news for universities and corporations and for society at large. It follows that any institution or company that can afford to set aside 1,000 desktop machines – and invest in the communications software to link them – can own a supercomputer."

He continues: "Some are predicting a minor revolution in computing similar to what happened many years ago, when the VAX computer became "everyman's mainframe." Small cluster computers have already been popping up in departmental labs and within academic research groups. Now, clusters at the frontline of performance can be assembled and run anywhere, more or less. The consequences could be truly dramatic."

Regarding the plans to upgrading the Tech's supercomputer to Xserve G5 cluster nodes – as announced earlier this week – Aref predicts that they will: "Gain even more industry-leading price performance benefits."