Mac News Sites

Apart from Apple Computer, very many Mac news resources exist on the web. Review this short list of the top sites for your daily Mac technology and information frameworks for your workflows and pipelines.

Daily Mac News
MacBidouille in English
The Mac Observer

Technology News
DMN Newswire
impress PC Watch

Mac Forums
Creative Cow
Digital Video Information Network
2-POP forums
DMN Forums

iSCSI on the Mac

On the Microsoft Windows OS, iSCSI has reached a very mature level. On Linux, the Linux-iSCSI project has a refined iSCSI initiator. On the Mac, there are only a few vendors, and most are on their first generation iSCSI protocol drivers for Mac OS X Panther 10.3 and Mac OS X Tiger 10.4 OS. This is all going to change in the next several months.

Apple Computer has a SAN solution, compatible with ADIC’s StorNext File System called xSAN, a new disk paradigm that supports Mac OS X application only. In order to use the xSAN file system, one needs to erase completely and reformat any attached drives, including RAID subsystems.

Currently xSAN is supported through fibre channel networks only, and requires a dedicated ethernet port for metadata. iSCSI allows a traditional gigabit ethernet (GbE) network to become dedicated to storage with a moderate performance decrease. One can install a dedicated single or multiple port PCI card for dedicated GbE storage networking and internet traffic.

ATTO Technologies offers the Xtend SAN and Studio Network Solutions offers the GlobalSAN product. In the near future, expect D-Link to have products ready for market that go beyond the 1 GbE connection, stretching the storage platform to 10 GbE, beyond the range of 4 Gb fibre channel.

Window vs. Mac War Over?

Using computers and information technology (IT) in general comes at a great price. It may consume electricity, human power, or intellectual curiosity. To become good at using something, usually takes many repeat failures and certainly many hours of study and operation.

In the IT space, just two major companies control the worldwide computer desktop: Microsoft with it’s Windows operating system, and second runner up Apple Computer with Mac OS X. Sure, niche players like Sun Microsystems Solaris, Red Hat Linux, or SUSE Linux are available, but are not being distributed on millions of desktops every fiscal quarter. So far there have been at least six releases of Windows counting all the way back from Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Microsoft recently announced Windows Vista, to be released sometime in early 2007. All of these operating systems has evolved from the earlier release, and as the adoption rate increased worldwide, so did the various problems.

Apple Computer has released five Mac OS X products: Mac OS X Cheetah, Mac OS X Puma, Mac OS X Jaguar, Mac OS X Panther, and Mac OS X Tiger. Apple recently announced Mac OS X Leopard, to be releases sometime in future, probably in mid 2007. In the early days of desktop computing, there was a rapid one-upping, as each company bundled features, services, and support to hold parity. Prior to Mac OS X, under the Mac OS Classic environment (i.e., Mac OS 8 or Mac OS 9) there was competition, but with the release of Mac OS X, and especially after Mac OS X Jaguar, Apple pulled ahead and had never looked back.

The investment in Mac OS X is paying off now, as very high level support is now included in the operating system for OpenGL, content creation, and visualization unheard of in previous releases.
Apple Computer Mac OS X Development Milestones
Date Event
12/20/1996 | Apple Announced NeXT Deal
09/13/2000 | Mac OS X Beta Available
03/24/2001 | Mac OS X Cheetah 10.0 Available
09/29/2001 | Mac OS X Puma 10.1 Available
08/24/2002 | Mac OS X Jaguar 10.2 Available
10/23/2003 | Mac OS X Panther 10.3 Available
04/28/2005 | Mac OS X Tiger 10.4 Available
Q2/Q3 2007 | Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 Available

With added services also came added security. There is not a single instance of a Mac OS X virus released in the wild to take down Mac machines. On the Windows platform, it’s a regular spectator sport to see how many machine go down on a weekly basis due to spyware, malware, and computer viruses.

Operating system viruses and spyware cripple machines on the Windows side consistently. Antivirus and antispyware tools are not just available, but essential subscription based software to get the machines up and running on a daily basis. In a hypothetical scenario (actual hardware prices are today very competitively priced when performance is compared, i.e., oranges to oranges), if a company saves 10% to 20% on the initial purchase of commodity x86 hardware (or AMD), capable of running Microsoft Windows software, and in the course of the machines life gets hit not by one virus, but by multiple viruses, how much money was actually saved? It may be that the liabilities associated with the commodity hardware and a ubiquitous operating system like Windows actually cost 50% more than a Apple Power Mac G5 or iMac G5 networked system, when the cost of virus software, added security programs, salaries of MCSE technicians and engineers, and the regular system corruptions due to hackers and virus authors are taken into account.

Hive Mind Grid Computing Mac

There’s been a dream of mine to have multiple cheap machines networked in a way to form a hive mind, so commands on one distribute to all and work together. This is loosely called grid computing. Imagine 3 iMac G5’s, Power Mac G5’s, or PowerBook G4’s networked together to work as one. The future is now!

At NAB 2005, Apple announced Final Cut Studio, which allows distributed Compressor rendering/encoding, so through a dedicated gigabit ethernet or firewire infrastructure, you combine a few machines into a working super computer. Mac OS X Tiger has as it’s base a technology called Xgrid, which is a protocol for clustering machines together out of the box.

The secret to success is the gigabit ethernet connection running at 1 Gbps or 128 MB/s. so now in the new computing model, the CPU comes second to the network connection. In a few years 10 gigabit will be standard, passing 2 Gbps or 4 Gbps fibre channel.

So now that you can grid the machine together, how about storage? Apple has an Xsan solution. Xsan costs just below $1500 a workstation to get the computers to share storage ($999 Xsan seat license, $499 fibre channel PCI-X card). A much more elegant and economical solution, that works on panther 10.3.5 and above is iSCSI.

you remember SCSI? all macs had it before ATA. Storage engineers never gave up on SCSI, and are reintroducing the SCSI protocols, but over gigabit ethernet! On a more modern mac, you already have the port, or can easily get a $20 network PCI card (recommended approach to separate the storage network from the IP network). The beauty of iSCSI it can be entirely software based, so yes you get a performance hit, but imagine sharing all your hard drive on a small gigabit network using software SAN. This is revolutionary. Current vendors that support the Mac are ATTO technology and Studio Network Solutions. These companies are just the beginning to a wonderful marriage of storage, grid computing, and the Mac.

apple Xserve G5 cluster nodes
apple Xserve G5 cluster nodes

Intel and NVIDIA Inside

Apple Xserve

Apple is moving the Mac to an Intel chipset. Until that day in 2007, where all new Mac machines will be Intel inside, expect many surprises. The glue to any good chipset deployment is not only the underlying semiconductor design, but the application environment to write to the hardware, or application program interface (API). Apple Xcode is the technology that drives the software engine. When the multicore comes out with hyperthreading, then we’re talking a good move toward Intel. The chip will have at least two onboard processors, and two virtual processors. All eyes are watching the Intel Fall Developer Forum, to see the processor roadmap.

Along with advanced processors, comes 64-bit computing, which allows access to more than 4 GB of RAM (the 32-bit limit). Today’s Power Macs can hold 8 GB of RAM. I was told by Adobe, that Creative Suite 2 needs around 2 GB of RAM for all it’s applications, and Apple Motion definitely needs all it can get (4 GB at least). the future is always in flux.

At the end of spring and now into the summer, the GPU market has reached an inflection point. Unlike the 90 nm and 65 nm semiconductor barrier, both NVIDIA and ATI chug along with product announcements and advancements. ATI announced at Computex CrossFire, a method to bond multiple PCI/AGP video cards together for near double the performance. NVIDIA had already announced a similar solution they called SLI. NVIDIA stirred the pot again with the GeForce 7 series. if the GeForce 6 series did not scream enough, we have the latest and greatest with more transistors and higher performance.

NVIDIA spurs on interest in its product and introductions with unique characters, usually buxom women scantily clad to attract the gamers and young folk of the planet. if you recall NVIDIA creates these female persona to demonstrate the real time rendering of characters in cinematic motion. all in all we have luna, nalu, dusk, and dawn (summary below). Will these chipsets make it the Mac?

GPU NVIDIA history

GeForce 7800
luna demo woman

GeForce 6800
nalu demo woman

GeForce FX 5900 series
dusk demo woman

GeForce FX 5800 series
dawn demo woman

NVIDIA digital production pipeline
NVIDIA digital production pipeline

Cloak Media Software Tool Box

Cloak Media uses a broad set of tools. Here are but a few of the varied applications used on a regular basis:

Mac OS X Server
Mac OS X
Mariner Write
Adobe Reader
Address Book
Mariner Calc
DS_Store Cleaner
Final Cut Pro
Soundtrack Pro
ColorMunki Create
QuickTime Player
Windows Media Player
DVD Studio Pro
Font Book
Time Machine

Apple Siggraph 2005 Booth

Apple has historically used Siggraph to announce cool things. This year, on the opening day of the Siggraph trade show, Apple Computer announced its might mouse pointing device. This first ever Apple released multibutton mouse looks like the ordinary elongated apple single clicking device, but has a very small trackball and multiple clicking surfaces.

Also at the booth, Apple featured a fully functional studio workstation setup with full Xsan support and shared rendering and storage resources via Xserve RAID. The majority of Apple representatives work out of the Pro Applications Santa Monica Campus, and for all three days showed nothing but respect and loyalty towards their varied customers.

apple might mouse
apple might mouse
apple final cut studio station
apple final cut studio station
friendly apple staff
friendly apple staff
apple shake in use
apple shake in use
apple shake users
apple shake users
apple xserve G5 along with xserve RAID
apple xserve G5 along with xserve RAID