Microsoft releases Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. today announced the release to manufacturing of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, the company's first software offering designed to run parallel, high-performance computing (HPC) applications for customers solving complex computations.

Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 accelerates customers' time to insight by providing a reliable, HPC platform that is simple to deploy, operate, and integrate with existing infrastructure and tools. The product will be generally available to customers in August, and evaluation versions will be provided to attendees of the Microsoft Tech*Ed 2006 conference in Boston.

"High-performance computing technology holds great potential for expanding the opportunities within engineering, medical research, exploration and other critical human endeavors, but until now it has been too expensive and too difficult for many people to use effectively," said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. "Microsoft is making HPC technology more mainstream by bringing the cost advantages, ease of use and partner ecosystem of the Windows Server(tm) platform to departments and divisions in commercial industry and the public sector. We want HPC technology to become a pervasive resource - something that's as easy to locate and use as printers are today. Microsoft is excited about the promise this holds for our customers and partners in the months and years ahead."

Bringing High-Performance Computing to the Mainstream

Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 provides customers with a simplified deployment and management experience, offers easy integration with existing Windows infrastructures, and enables customers to leverage their existing development skills using Microsoft Visual Studio 2005.

Via Microsoft's collaboration with the HPC community and strategic partners, Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 will deliver a more mainstream way for engineers, scientists and researchers to solve scaled-out business and scientific computational problems. This collaboration is designed to meet customers' unique needs by enabling them to choose among and run a variety of compatible HPC applications.

Microsoft has also made a multiyear, multimillion-dollar investment in joint projects at academic institutions to help guide ongoing software research and product innovation at Microsoft to address the most challenging technical computing problems.

Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 has been used by early-adopter customers for oil and gas reservoir simulation and seismic processing, by life sciences customers for simulations of enzyme catalysis and protein folding, and by manufacturing customers for vehicle design and safety improvements. Microsoft's early-adopter customers include BAE Systems, Queen's University Belfast (U.K.), AREVA-Challenge (France), CASPUR (Italy), Cornell University's Computational Biology Service Unit, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Northrop Grumman Corp., Petrobras (Brazil), Tokyo Institute of Technology's Global Scientific Information and Computing Center, the University of Cincinnati's Genome Research Institute and Virginia Tech's Computational Bioinformatics and Bioimaging Laboratory.

One example is BAE Systems, the premier transatlantic defence and aerospace firm. Previously the Aerospace firm's design cycle was complex and lengthy, and they found it difficult to reuse knowledge and collaborate effectively, in addition engineers needed to acquire advanced IT skills to manage complex IT systems and therefore engineers spent their time computing as opposed to engineering. One of the other challenges was these complex tools, complex processes and complex IT was expensive to run and maintain, and a drain on time for engineers stifling the companies ability to get products out to market quickly - something crucially important in this competitive industry. However, BAE Systems migration of key engineering platforms to the Microsoft Platform including Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, Windows Workflow Foundation and SQL Server has meant that the firm will be able to speed up the design process and to bring the products to market faster, improve the performance of the products and lowered their costs of running high performance computers.

"Simplifying our fluid dynamics engineering platform will increase our ability to bring solutions to market and reduce risk and cost to both BAE Systems and its customers," Jamil Appa, Group Leader, Technology and Engineering Services, BAE Systems.

Another example is Queen's University Belfast, a research-driven university with a dynamic world-class research and education portfolio, which wants to attract new research users group to high performance computing. "We are seeking to expand the use of high performance computing to user groups who do not have the in-depth Unix or Linux skills usually associated with high performance computing. These users have requirements that go beyond the capability of their desktop systems to run financial modeling, imaging and engineering applications.

Windows Compute Cluster Server offers Queens University users the ability to solve complex computational problems in a user friendly environment," added Queen's University Belfast Prof. Ken Bell, Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

Microsoft is also working closely with software and hardware partners to help ensure integration of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003. By the end of 2006, the following software and hardware partners are scheduled to publicly release solutions that run on, or interoperate with, Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003: ABAQUS Inc., Absoft Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), ANSYS Inc., BioTeam Inc., Broadcom Corp., CD-adapco, Cisco Systems Inc., Dell Inc., ESI Group, Fluent Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., HP, IBM Corp., Intel Corporation, Livermore Software Technology Corp., Macrovision Corp., the MathWorks Inc., Mecalog Group, Mellanox Technologies Ltd., MSC Software Corp., Myricom Inc., NEC Corp., Parallel Geoscience Corp., Platform Computing Inc., the Portland Group Inc. (PGI), Schlumberger Ltd., SilverStorm Technologies, Tyan Computer Corp., Verari Systems Inc., Voltaire and Wolfram Research Inc.

Meeting the Growing Demand for High-Performance Computing

Microsoft's entrance into high-performance computing comes at a time when customers are presented with powerful computing economics in the forms of multicore processors, standards-based, high-speed interconnects and ubiquitous x64 (64-bit x86 architecture) computers. Customer demand for HPC is being driven by a combination of increased performance in processors per compute node, low acquisition price per node, and the overall price and performance of compute clusters. These trends are driving new customers to adopt HPC to replace or supplement live, physical experiments with computer-simulated modeling, tests and analysis.

According to analyst firm IDC, the high-performance and technical computing (HPTC) market grew approximately 24 percent in 2005 to reach a record $9.2 billion (U.S.) in revenue, which is the second consecutive year of 20 percent-plus growth in this market. The HPC cluster market share continued to show explosive growth, representing over 50 percent of HPTC market revenue in the first quarter of 2006. IDC reported that worldwide x86 HPTC cluster revenue grew 70 percent year over year (2004 to 2005). IDC indicated that high-performance computing clusters in the lower-end capacity segments of the market will see substantial customer adoption in the coming years. These systems represent a significant initial opportunity for Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003.

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