Microsoft's Windows HPC Server 2008 ready for launch

The software giant’s latest server product targets performance and integration beyond traditionally demanding high-performance computing workloads.


Microsoft has released to manufacturing (RTM) its latest high-performance computing (HPC) server product Windows HPC Server 2008.

As the successor to Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 and based on Windows Server 2008, the new HPC Server 2008 has been designed to extend the reach of HPC into the distributed computing mainstream, as well as offer traditionally heavy HPC scientific, academic or financial users integration with other Microsoft products.

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Bill Laing, Microsoft Windows server and solutions division corporate vice president said: "Companies have to be more efficient than ever with IT resources. They require HPC solutions that deploy quickly, integrate in a heterogeneous environment and scale from workstation to cluster."

Earl Joseph, HPC programme vice president at analyst firm IDC added: "Our research shows that high-performance computing has been one of the highest-growth IT markets over the past five years."

To capitalise on this growth, Laing talked up how Windows HPC Server 2008 offers developers the tools to use HPC resources with Microsoft products that their businesses already use every day, including Excel and SharePoint Server, through a new service-oriented architecture (SOA) within HPC development.

Other key product features include integration with Visual Studio 2008 as a parallel programming environment for rapid HPC application development. Support for standard interfaces includes multi-platform shared-memory parallel programming (or OpenMP), multiprocessor interconnect (MPI) and web services. And this extends to third-party numerical library providers, performance optimisers, compilers and debugging toolkits as well.

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Microsoft also highlighted the new server product's management capabilities, built on a familiar Windows-based desktop environment to reduce the need for specialised skills or training. And improved deployment, administration and management tools have been designed to increase productivity and the interoperability with existing systems and clusters over the entire system lifetime, it said.

Jay Dweck, global head of strategies and technology for the Institutional Securities Group at Morgan Stanley was part of the early product evaluation programme. "We create and develop models and systems designed to enhance our securities and investment banking businesses. We are closely evaluating Microsoft's Windows HPC Server 2008 to provide Morgan Stanley with the ability to maintain our competitive edge," he said.

Although evaluation copies are now available for download, Microsoft would only confirm US pricing and availability of $475 (257) per node at the time of writing.

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