REDMOND, Wash. — June 9, 2006 — 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, June 11–16 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™ 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 AREVA-Challenge (France), BAE Systems, CASPUR (Italy), Cornell University’s Computational Biology Service Unit, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Northrop Grumman Corp., Petrobras (Brazil), Queen’s University of Belfast (U.K.), 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.
The Computational Biology Service Unit in Ithaca, N.Y., is a core facility for computational biology and bioinformatics for Cornell University researchers, providing research and computational support to biology groups. Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 has been adopted as a platform for computational biology applications of a wide range of research activities in bioinformatics, including sequence-based data mining, population genetics and protein structure prediction. Many of the projects require lengthy calculations, so a massively parallel computing system, such as Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, helps accelerate the pace of discovery and insights.
“Adopting Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 was a natural step for us since we use SQL Server™ for our database needs and Windows servers for hosting our Web interfaces,” said Jaroslaw Pillardy, Ph.D., senior research associate at the Computational Biology Service Unit. “In addition to serving massively parallel applications, I’ve found that Windows Compute Cluster Server is a convenient tool for serving the computational needs of many small projects, where installing the software, updating databases and managing other such tasks are much easier than on a set of separate computers.”
Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology sector has adopted Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 to deliver on its commitment to helping U.S. government customers achieve mission success. The Space Technology sector is a leading developer of military and civil space systems, satellite payloads, and advanced technologies from high-power lasers to high-performance microelectronics. By running simulation applications, such as MATLAB and FLUENT, in a familiar Windows-based infrastructure, the sector has been able to develop and run simulations and analysis more quickly with lower cost.
“Scientists and engineers have huge unmet computing needs today,” said Thi Pham, systems engineer in the Space Technology sector at Northrop Grumman. “By adopting Microsoft’s high-performance computing solution, we are able to take advantage of economies of scale and efficiencies, helping our scientists and engineers save time and money while increasing availability of computing resources. Beforehand, I had to limit my problem size because I ran out of resources. Now I feel enabled to think bigger.”
Microsoft also is 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.
Evaluation versions are available today from http://www.microsoft.com/hpc, with generally availability scheduled for August via volume licensing and original equipment manufacturing licensing. Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 will be available in the volume license channel for an estimated price of $469 (U.S.) per node, but prices will vary depending on license and volume.
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