According to the mostly reliable ThinkSecret, Apple is planning to build Qmaster into its line of Pro Apps, including Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, and the recently released Motion. Qmaster, which is already part of Shake, is used for distributing rendering tasks to other Macs on the network.
The whole idea behind distributed computing is to use spare processor time on other machines in a network to “share the load” of a particular task. The most famous distributed computing project to date is SETI@home, from the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley. With over 4,979,107 registered users to date, SETI@home is an ingenious use of distributed computing, since it not only allows others to share the load, it also lowered the financial burden off of what could have been a very costly project. (In case you’re not familiar with SETI@home, users download a client application that downloads and crunches on data collected from the Arecibo radiotelescope in the quest for extraterrestrial intelligence. The SETI@home application can run in the background or as a screensaver to process the data. Once it has finished processing a chunk, the results are sent back to UC Berkeley, another data chunk is downloaded, and the process starts over again.)
If you look at what Apple’s done in the past, once they find a technology that seems to take off, they pursue it like a cheetah chasing down a gazelle. For example, Apple introduced Rendezvous as part of Jaguar, and look where that’s propagated to: iChat AV, iTunes, iPhoto, and Safari (plus not to mention where others have used it, like SubEthaEdit).
Apple seems to be pushing the whole distributed computing thread (excuse the pun), what with Xcode doing distributed builds, Qmaster possibly spreading across the Pro App line, and Xgrid grabbing a lot of attention from the scitech market. If prior history counts for anything, it really makes me wonder, what’s next?
Man, I can’t wait until the WWDC (June 28 to July 2, 2004) to find out.
If the rumor is true and Qmaster makes its way into the Pro Apps, what’s next for distributed computing on the Mac?