Accompanying the announcement of Xserve and Xserve RAID, Apple is previewing Xgrid, its home-grown a computational clustering technology from its Advanced Computation Group (ACG) at Macworld Expo.

Xgrid lets users in computationally intensive environments create a grid enabled "virtual" IT environment that can take advantage of unused computing capacity to run batch and workload processing. The beta software is available for free download from the company.

Apple says its new high-level product: "Provides the easiest way to run computer intensive applications, such as the popular gene-sequencing application BLAST, on multiple Macs using Rendezvous networking technology." Xgrid uses the latter feature to automatically discover, connect and manage tasks across available systems in a Mac cluster.

Supercomputer solution With Xgrid running on Xserve G5 servers in a 42U industry-standard rack, up to 84 Power PC G5 processors can be clustered to create a supercomputer with 1.5 teraflops of processing power dedicated to solving compute intensive problems.

The Xgrid Console has an Aqua interface that lets users execute Unix commands, run shell scripts or feed applications across a cluster. Xgrid ships with built-in support for gene-sequencing application BLAST and comes with a software developer kit.

Customers from NASA, Genentech, Simon Fraser University, Reed College and Virginia Tech have been testing the new technology on clusters of Mac desktops, portables and servers, Apple said.