Microsoft Joining Supercomputing Game

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-06-23 Print this article Print

Microsoft confirms it is at work on a new version of Windows Server 2003 specifically for high-performance computing. Genomics companies are already among the early customers.

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday confirmed it is entering the market for high-performance computing software and will be offering a new version of Windows Server 2003 specifically for this. That follows weeks of denials by company officials that it had made any final decision about new Windows software for HPC (high-performance computing).
The new version will be known as Windows Server 2003, HPC Edition, and is expected to ship in the second half of next year. Final pricing and packaging decisions have not been made, a Microsoft spokeswoman told eWEEK on Wednesday.
"This edition will be specifically designed for customers running scalable, parallel computing workloads in vertical market segments such as engineering, life sciences and finance," the spokeswoman said. Windows Server 2003, HPC Edition, will give customers a Windows-based solution with a single simplified environment for developing HPC applications as well as deploying and managing HPC clusters. It will also include established industry standards, such as MPI (Message Passing Interface), for high-performance computing and will be supported by many industry partners including OEMs, middleware vendors and ISVs such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Dell Inc., IBM, Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Verari Systems Inc. and Cornell Theory Center, the spokeswoman said. Last month, the spokeswoman told eWEEK that while the Redmond, Wash., company was considering high-performance computing and how best to provide this to its customers, there was nothing to announce at that time. "Although Microsoft does not have anything to specifically announce right now, they are evaluating the best way to enhance and package HPC capabilities for customers, and the company has posted ads for jobs in this regard," she said. Andy Lees, Microsofts corporate vice president for server and tools marketing, told eWEEK last month that while the company was committed to HPC and to making sure there is "no place where Windows does not add value to our customers … no final decision has been made about a separate HPC version of Windows Server." To read the full interview with Microsofts Lees, click here. "What happens with high-performance computing is that there tends to be a small number of very large scenarios, and they usually involve customized hardware and requirements, and the customer then looks at what the right thing to do is with the software. Thats kind of our approach, so having a general-purpose box-on-the-shelf for high-performance computing is kind of a contradiction in some respects," he said. "But is that a key scenario for us? Yes, it is, and we are looking at doing specific R&D [research and development] to help HPC be a scenario we can use as a differentiator. ... But people dont generally decide they want HPC in the bedroom or that they are going to go down to a retail store and buy it. Things do seem to be pretty customized in this area," Lees said. Next Page: Cornell Theory Centers migration from Unix.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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