Microsoft released its Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 earlier this week, a high-performance computing server designed for powerful analysis and massive data-crunching.
Microsoft released its Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 earlier
this week. The HPC (high-performance computing) server is designed to help
businesses, government and academia leverage capabilities for powerful
Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 is interoperable with other
Microsoft technologies such as SharePoint, Microsoft System Center, Microsoft
Office and Active Directory. HPC Services for Excel 2010 in Windows HPC Server
2008 R2 supposedly reduces the calculation time for large and complex
spreadsheets, while the platform supports hundreds of technical computing
applications. Microsoft also claims that Windows HPC Server "is 32 percent to
51 percent less expensive than Linux-based HPC systems over five years."
Microsoft's broader technical computing initiative involves developing applications
for parallel computing platforms on client systems, server clusters and the
cloud. Future updates to the Windows HPC Server will allow clients to manage
HPC nodes in Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud-development platform, from within
on-premises server clusters.
"We're now at the point where parallel computing-many
computers working together to solve complex problems-is expanding out of HPC
and into the mainstream," Bill Hilf, general manager of Microsoft's Technical
Computing division, wrote
in a Sept. 20 posting on The Official Microsoft Blog
. "Multicore PCs and
cloud data centers offering tens of thousands of processors create opportunities
for a much broader set of people to harness parallel systems, in order to ask
tougher questions, gain deeper insights and solve bigger challenges."
Hilf cites climatology, genetics and mechanical engineering
as areas particularly receptive to the powers of parallel systems. For example,
"an engineer designing a new engine for the next generation of commercial
aircraft could tap into 10,000 processing cores at the push of a button, in
order to repeatedly simulate how the airflow through that engine affects its
performance, how it dissipates heat."
In June, Microsoft and Novell reported an increase in the
number of companies seeking their HPC
interoperability offering, which deploys workload management across both
Windows HPC Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The offering allows IT
managers to balance server workloads by running specific applications on either
Windows or Linux platforms.
"Companies around the world are realizing the benefits of
our joint interoperable cross-platform technical solutions," Ted MacLean,
general manager for Strategic Partnerships and Licensing at Microsoft, wrote in
a statement at the time. "The fact that we're able to address a real need in
the HPC market is evidenced by the number of licenses we've issued."
Microsoft originally released Windows HPC Server 2008 to
manufacturing in September 2008, hoping to appeal to the financial sector and
market segments with similarly large data-crunching needs. With the release,
the company tried to cast itself as the underdog in an arena it claimed was
dominated by Linux or Unix servers.