Details of Va Tech Supercomputer Project
According to the talk, the timeframe on the entire project was relatively short, with initial plans starting in March 2003. Initial negotiations were begun with Dell, IBM and AMD, but costs remained too high. In fact, the first Virginia Tech heard of the new PowerMac G5s was on their announcement day at WWDC (June 23rd).
Varadarajan met with Apple within the week and the deal was made. (Of interest, the purchase was actually made through the Apple Store.) Initial machines came with the stock Mac OS X 10.2.7, with plans to upgrade to Panther shortly.
Final plans for the cluster will be made freely available, and requests have already been coming in. Varadarjan says, "Expect to see a lot more G5 clusters."
Many more details available at MacDevCenter.