Microsoft Aims To Grow HPC Market With HPC Server R2

Microsoft Corp. has big expectations for Windows High Performance Computing (HPC) Server 2008 R2, which was formally introduced at the High Performance Computing Financial Markets Conference in New York today. Available immediately, the new and improved R2 is now interoperable with the Microsoft IT infrastructure, including Active Directory, SharePoint Server, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Office. It has comparable performance to Linux at 32-51 percent lower cost over five years, offers

September 21, 2010

3 Min Read
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Microsoft Corp. has big expectations for Windows High Performance Computing (HPC) Server 2008 R2, which was formally introduced at the High Performance Computing Financial Markets Conference in New York today. Available immediately, the new and improved R2 is now interoperable with the Microsoft IT infrastructure, including Active Directory, SharePoint Server, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Office. It has comparable performance to Linux at 32-51 percent lower cost over five years, offers HPC Services for Excel 2010 reduces calculation time of huge, complex spreadsheets by orders of magnitude and has growing application support.

The first opportunity provided by this new release is for new users who either found high performance computing (HPC) too expensive or complex. The second opportunity is for existing HPC customers who are running Linux solutions but managing them with Windows tools. The third opportunity is yet to be proven, but Microsoft is optimistic: cloud computing. The company believes there will be customers who will be able to handle the majority of their HPC needs locally, but who will find a cloud solution for special needs more economical.

According to IDC's Earl Joseph, HPC program vice president, the HPC market has doubled in the last decade, and new technologies like multi-core CPUs are driving need for most users to totally redesign and rewrite their applications. He says the new version makes HPC clusters better and more usable.

"They are making it easier for new users to apply HPC for competitive success. They are improving their tools for designing new applications. New scientists and engineers are graduating knowing how to use Windows, so these new products make it easier for them to start using HPC." Joseph said.

All things considered, Joseph sees a lot of upside for current and potential HPC customers, and a cloud enhancement due out in several months will make Microsoft's solution even more attractive. "There is a lot of open market in HPC that Microsoft can win sales in, including their cloud offerings in HPC."While hundreds of the R2 beta have been downloaded since its release earlier this year, Microsoft says its Technical Computing group, under which HPC falls, has been working closely with around 30 companies. Staff have been going onsite to these customers for a week at a time to understand what's going on, how they use HPC.

One of the early adopters is Rocky Mountain Supercomputing Center. A public/private partnership intended to foster economic development in Montana, the center has used all three versions of Windows HPC Server and gave glowing reviews to the latest release. "Things are just significantly better," says Earl Dodd, executive director. "Our experience with the beta was improving exponentially over time." He says R2 allows the center to break down the classic barriers to HPC or supercomputing and to grow the number and type of users, helping "mere mortals that sit in small businesses remain competitive and do the kinds of things they couldn't do before."

Dodd believes it's very important for small and midsize enterprises to expand their horizons and be able to make use of the larger amounts of available data. "If you don't compute, you don't compete."

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