DRESDEN, Germany — June 18, 2008 —Today at the International Supercomputing Conference, Microsoft Corp. debuted in the top 25 of the world’s top 500 largest supercomputers with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), which ranked at No. 23 with 68.5 teraflops. The company also announced that the release candidate version of Windows HPC Server 2008 will be available for download in the last week of June.
Key features that enable Windows HPC Server 2008 to efficiently scale to thousands of cores include a new high-speed NetworkDirect RDMA, Microsoft’s new remote direct memory access interface, highly efficient and scalable cluster management tools, a service-oriented architecture (SOA) job scheduler, and cluster interoperability through standards such as the High Performance Computing Basic Profile (HPCBP) specification produced by the Open Grid Forum (OGF). At the show, Mellanox Technologies Inc. will demonstrate its new ConnectX InfiniBand cards achieving 2 µsec latency with 2 GB per second throughput using the new NetworkDirect interface.
As Windows HPC Server 2008 prepares for its launch in the second half of this year, early adopters of the new operating system already are seeing great results. The NCSA used the beta version of Windows HPC Server 2008 to achieve its 68.5 teraflops and 77.7 percent efficiency on 9,472 cores, making this facility one of the most powerful supercomputing systems in the world and the fastest Windows cluster to date.
“Our experience with Windows HPC Server 2008 has been impressive,” said Robert Pennington, deputy director of the NCSA. “Deploying it was much easier than we expected, and the performance results have surpassed our expectations. When we deployed Windows on our cluster, which has more than 1,000 nodes, we went from bare metal to running the LINPACK benchmark programs in just four hours. The performance of Windows HPC Server 2008 has yielded efficiencies that are among the highest we’ve seen for this class of machine.”
Similarly, computer scientists at Umea University in northern Sweden, also working with the beta version of Windows HPC Server 2008 on their supercluster, achieved 46 teraflops and 85.5 percent efficiency on 5,376 cores, making their system the second-largest Windows cluster ever deployed and the fastest academic cluster in Sweden. Umea University will run the new supercomputer at its facility known as HPC2N. The university’s cluster employs 672 IBM blade servers, and also marks the first time that Windows HPC Server 2008 has been run publicly on IBM hardware.
“By working closely together on Windows HPC Server 2008, our customers are already seeing improved efficiency rates,” said Dave Jursik, vice president of supercomputer sales for IBM Corp. “This industry partnership with Microsoft plays a vital role in achieving our goal to create powerful cluster solutions that address the growing needs of researchers such as the scientists at Umea.”
NCSA and Umea University are just two of an increasing number of supercomputing centers using Windows HPC Server 2008 that are on the TOP500 List with strong efficiency benchmarks. This list of the most powerful computer systems in the world is published twice a year by the International Supercomputing Conference. The list can be found at http://www.top500.org.
“The systems at Umea University and NSCA demonstrate that Windows can scale to the rarefied atmosphere of the top 25 supercomputing systems in the world — which up to now have relied on dedicated, specialized hardware and software,” said Kyril Faenov, general manager of HPC at Microsoft.
Microsoft’s high-performance computing vision goes beyond tackling traditional HPC workloads. Microsoft brings the value of an integrated, turnkey HPC solution and a productive development environment to customers for whom high-performance computing has been out of reach in the past. By focusing on productivity for users, developers and administrators, Microsoft is positioned to lead the growth of HPC. According to IDC, over the next five years the HPC server market is projected to show healthy, steady growth. IDC expects revenue for the total HPC server market to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 9.2 percent to reach $18 billion by 2012*.
“Microsoft has a history of taking niche technologies available only to a small segment of the computing market and making them accessible and to be used productively by large numbers of users,” Faenov said. “That’s our strategy in the HPC space, where today users have to scour the Internet for disparate technologies or get six or seven vendors to provide the various pieces of a configuration. We have a complete solution for such customers, and we’re working with our ecosystem of partners to create a platform that they can rely on.”
Last fall Microsoft initiated a parallel computing initiative, a program creating a set of common development tools across multicore desktops and clusters with the goal of enabling parallelism for a broad set of commercial applications. In addition, the company and Intel Corporation recently announced a joint investment to create two new Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, aimed at accelerating developments in mainstream parallel computing.
More information on Windows HPC Server 2008 is available at http://www.microsoft.com/hpc.
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