Apple's offering for scientific research and enterprise computing was improved last night when the company released Xgrid Preview version 2.

Xgrid is Apple's homegrown Mac clustering software. It transforms a group of Macs into an affordable supercomputer installation. A key advantage of this software is that it's able to manage an "ad-hoc" network of Macs.

Apple says: "Harnessing desktop systems into a computational grid is known as desktop recovery, in that it allows researchers to use what would otherwise be idle time on these processors to run batch and workload processing. Xgrid's support for both desktop recovery and dedicated nodes enables you to use all your available resources for a problem, with a minimum of time and money."

New features in this iteration, according to Apple, include an Xgrid command-line tool for submitting and monitoring jobs; support for Message Passing Interface (MPI), which lets Xgrid configure and launch executables linked against MPI libraries. The new release also offers "numerous" bug fixes, Apple says.

Xgrid Preview 2 is available for download from the company (though registration is required). It requires 128MB RAM and Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.

Apple has made a guide to the technologies in Xgrid Tech Preview 2 available for download (PDF), and its Xgrid development team is interested in feedback from those exploiting the software.