Microsoft High on Performance

Microsoft will be offering an edition of Windows Server
2003 designed for high-performance computing (HPC).

Dubbed Windows Server 2003, HPC Edition, the product will serve
customers running scalable, parallel computing workloads in
vertical market segments, such as engineering, life sciences and finance,
and it will include established industry standards,
such as Message Passing Interface.

Microsoft has promised a secure
platform for HPC application development, cluster deployment and management.
One element of that will likely be Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), a set
of tools that allow IT administrators to monitor the events, health and performance
information of a Windows Server infrastructure and application environment. MOM
is a key element of the company’s Dynamic Systems Initiative, a plan to
make it easier to design, deploy and manage complex distributed computing systems.

In May, Ilya Bukshteyn, Microsoft director of product management for Windows
Server System, told that the server group is working with
Microsoft’s R&D group to investigate how Microsoft can bring its Dynamic Systems
Initiative to bear on supercomputing.

IBM has a lucrative deal to supply
supercomputing power to the U.S. Weather Service via its IBM Deep Computing Unit,
which runs a cluster of 44 IBM p690 Regatta servers along with 42 terabytes of IBM
FastT500 storage servers, providing 7.3 teraflops of computing power, or two trillion
mathematical operations per second.

Supercomputer specialist Cray signed a five-year $43.2 million
with the Korea Meteorological Administration to establish an Earth System Research
Center for advanced atmospheric modeling in the East Asia Pacific region. It also
partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a
joint project to build a 100-teraflop supercomputer.

While supercomputers were the purview of “big iron” hardware makers,
according to Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox, the growing need for
HPC has led to the development of clustered supercomputers using Linux,
Mac OS X and other non-mainframe operating systems.

“These clusters would
run on the same hardware as Windows, so it makes sense that Microsoft would
want to play in that market, as well,” Wilcox said. Jupiter Research and are both owned by Jupitermedia.

Microsoft’s server move could help stave off the hard-charging assault of Linux
servers, a battle it has conceded on the Web server front.

According to the Apache
Foundation, the non-profit organization that oversees development of the open source Apache Web
server software, Apache is the most widely implemented Web server platform, and two
recent surveys pegged its market share at 70.48 percent and 69.01 percent, respectively.

High-performance computing may be moving toward Linux, as well. IBM is
a Linux-based supercomputer; a smaller, prototype version, Blue Gene/L, has been
clocked at a peak speed of 2 teraflops. When it’s completed, it will consist of
a group of machines that will occupy 64 full racks and operate at about 360 teraflops.

Windows Server 2003, HPC Edition, is expected to ship in the second half
of 2005 at a still undetermined price. Redmond said it would be supported by
OEMs, middleware vendors and ISVs, including AMD, Dell, IBM, Intel,
HP, Verari and Cornell Theory Center.

Along with ease of management, Microsoft promised the HPC Edition will provide
low total-cost-of ownership. These value-adds will have to be valuable enough to beat free.

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