Microsoft Joining Supercomputing Game

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."

/zimages/2/28571.gifTo 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.