Microsoft gears up for HPC push

By Dave Bailey on Jun 23, 2008 8:19 AM
Filed under Software

Microsoft will make a release candidate version of its high performance computing software, HPC Server 2008, available for download next week.

Key features in the HPC Server 2008 RC, include NetworkDirect, Microsoft's new direct memory access (RDMA) interface, new scalable cluster management tools, and an service-oriented architecture (SOA) job scheduler.

Microsoft is also touting cluster interoperability achieved through its embrace of standards like the HPC Basic Profile (HPCBP), a specification produced by the Open Grid Forum (OGF).

Industry observers say that Microsoft will have a tough task in the HPC market, which is currently dominated by Linux systems. In a recent interview with IT Week, Bordan Tkachuk, Viglen CEO, said that Viglen had seen Microsoft gain some traction in the HPC market.

“Microsoft’s HPC solution will have a hard time competing with Linux systems – but if you’d asked me that question in late 2006 I’d have said ‘no chance’ – today there is a chance and we have sold systems to some sites,” added Tkachuk.

Microsoft also announced at the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden, Germany that a system using its software had broken into the top 25 of the world's top 500 most powerful supercomputers. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) system, a 1000-plus node cluster with 9,472 cores, which uses a beta version of HPC Server 2008 was recently ranked 23rd, with a performance rated at 68.5 teraflops.

Microsoft's HPC general manager Kyril Faenov said that Microsoft's approach to the HPC market was to be based on customers being able to cluster commodity hardware to achieve performance, "The NSCA system demonstrates that Windows can scale to the rarefied atmosphere of the top 25 supercomputing systems in the world - which up to now have relied on dedicated, specialised hardware and software,” he said.
 
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