Today at Supercomputing 2009 in Portland, Oregon, Microsoft Corporation announced the immediate availability of betas for Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 and distributed Microsoft Office Excel 2010 for the cluster. Together with the recently announced Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Beta, which is designed to simplify parallel programming, these advances should make it possible for more users to access supercomputing power through familiar technologies and tools such as Microsoft Office Excel, Windows Server, and Visual Studio.
Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 features:
- Improved scalability, with Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 offering out-of-the-box support for deploying, running and managing clusters up to 1,000 nodes
- New configuration and deployment options such as diskless boot, mixed-version clusters and support for a remote head node database
- Improved system management, diagnostics and reporting including an enhanced heat map, multiple customizable tabs, an extensible diagnostic framework and the ability to create richer custom reports
- Improved support for service-oriented architecture (SOA) workloads including a new fire-and-recollect programming model, finalization hooks, improved Java interoperability, automatic restart and failover of broker nodes, and improved management, monitoring, diagnostics and debugging
- Message Passing Interface (MPI) and networking enhancements including optimizations for new processors, enhanced support for RDMA over Ethernet and InfiniBand, improved MPI debugging, and a pushbutton HPC LINPACK optimization wizard
- New ways to accelerate Microsoft Office Excel workbooks such as support for Cluster-Aware User-Defined Functions and the capability to run distributed Excel 2010 for the cluster.
"Until now, the power of high-performance and parallel computing has largely been available to a limited subset of customers due to the complexity of environments and applications, as well as the challenges of parallel programming," said Vince Mendillo, senior director of High Performance Computing at Microsoft. "Today, we're seeing performance numbers that rival Linux from micro-kernel benchmarks to independent software vendor (ISV) benchmarks. We have a dedicated performance lab at Microsoft, and ISVs are seeing 30 percent to 40 percent performance improvements in the speed of their code on Windows HPC Server."
Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 should help make parallel programming simpler and more efficient for a broad base of developers across both client and cluster workloads. In addition, by moving Microsoft Office Excel 2010 to the cluster, customers can see linear performance scaling of complex spreadsheets — spreadsheets that before would take weeks to complete, and which are now completing their calculations in a few hours.
Last week, Cray Inc. launched the Cray CX1-iWS system, a new generation of workstation sold exclusively through Dell Inc., which combines a powerful Windows 7-based workstation with a fully interoperable high-performance computing cluster running Windows HPC Server 2008. Similarly, Wipro Technologies, the global IT services business of Wipro Ltd., recently announced that it has formed a relationship with Microsoft to address the growing high-performance and parallel computing segment. Wipro will enable customers to migrate to Windows HPC Server 2008 by offering services for application porting, optimization, application development, and cluster deployment and management.
"Many frontline researchers, analysts, and scientists desperately need access to more computational power than they currently have, but find it either difficult or too costly in time to gain access to expanded HPC resources. Windows HPC Server 2008 has been designed to address the needs of those wishing to expand their access to HPC, without requiring them to become computer programming experts," said Earl Joseph, program vice president, high-performance computing, IDC. "Microsoft's latest investments in HPC and parallelism help to reduce the complexities of supercomputing, in particular making it easier to program and thereby making it more accessible to business, academia, and government users."