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Microsoft Supercomputing

Microsoft Competes In Supercomputer Market 464

HoboMaster writes "Microsoft is releasing a public beta of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 in their first attempt to compete in the supercomputer OS market. Gates is planned to speak at the 2005 Supercomputer Conference, which will be Microsoft's first appearance at the conference. Gates, as always, has high hopes for this new version of Windows, even claiming it to be as powerful and easier to use than Linux."
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Microsoft Competes In Supercomputer Market

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  • oh boy (Score:5, Funny)

    by jst4fun ( 767869 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @05:54PM (#14038460) Homepage
    so its super blue screen(s) of death
  • Confused (Score:5, Funny)

    by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @05:54PM (#14038471) Journal
    "easier to use than Linux"

    Yes? Where is the part about the high hopes for this operating system?
    • "easier to use than Linux"

      Yes? Where is the part about the high hopes for this operating system?

      That would be the "as powerful" part.
    • "Where is the part about the high hopes for this operating system?"

      Well, I'm kinda excited about the thought of having more computers crash faster. Providing more in less time should surely be desirable by the public.

      As a side note I wonder if there is a "Quickest computer crash" Guiness World Record? (well, for a system not in development)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think he might own some Microsoft stock.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @05:54PM (#14038478)
    ... well for me, it was clusterfuck.
  • Maybe Linux... (Score:5, Informative)

    by NardofDoom ( 821951 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @05:55PM (#14038480)
    But not OS X [apple.com]

    And I can bet it won't be included with their client systems.

    • The difference is where supercomputing matters - areas of science and engineering - are dominated mostly by Linux but also have contendors in Windows.
      (Engineering is highlighted because that is my area of expertise - company I work for does high fidelity simulation in both Linux and Windows... but few if any companies in the engineering world work under OS X)
      • Re:The difference (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FLAGGR ( 800770 )
        Yeah, rendering, video editing and the other things Apple's xserve's don't need supercomputers.

        Science and engineering are *not* the only places where supercomputers matter. You're just bias. Just watch the making of documentary for epIII of star wars, and look at all the shiny G5's hooked up to xserve's with awsome apple cinema display's. Science and engineering may be tilted heavily to windows and linux, but movie editing, 3d rendering etc are even more so geared to osx (well, not as much 3d rendering as
    • If you want an "easy to use" linux cluster try Scyld [scyld.com], it's pretty much plug and go integrated linux cluster solution out of the box. Then again, that's what you would expect from a distribution tailored explicitly for clustering and HPC solutions.

  • Wake up, Bill (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fished ( 574624 ) <amphigory@ g m a i l.com> on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @05:56PM (#14038493)
    Supercomputers aren't about "Ease of use." They're about speed per dollar. When WCC can beat Linux on price/performance, then people will stand up and take notice. Not before.
    • Re:Wake up, Bill (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ma_luen ( 798746 ) <marronNO@SPAMcs.unm.edu> on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:01PM (#14038550)
      Actually the importance of the raw performance of the machine is on the decline. More emphasis is being placed on the idea that super computers are only useful in the sense that they help researchers solve problems. So there is growing interest in the notion of "time to solution" as a combination of ease of programming for, ease of using, and of course running a data set on the machine.

      • by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:06PM (#14038596) Journal
        I'm pretty sure supercomputers are about performance.
        • A fast computer that isnt usable is useless. Like a fast car that isn't street legal.

          If Microsoft can make inroads into newer supercomputing arenas with newer people who don't want to learn Linux, etc... they may have a market. I say it half sarcastically because I agree with you, yet I can see where Microsoft is taking this.

          • Specially if it comes bundled with Microsoft Visual Basic for Supercomputing - Science Edition, allowing any computer-illiterate scientist to easily put together simulations without needing to care about multiple-processor optimizations. It will have ready-to-use MSAtomicNuclei.ocx, MSAtmosphere.dll, etc.

            You only need to go: Create a form. Drag the AtomView object to the form.
            Dim MyAtom(1E100)
            For i = 1 to 1E100
            My Atom(i) = MSAtom.new(x,y)

            Who wants to learn C, and all those t
          • by FLAGGR ( 800770 )
            Uh, okay. You do realize super computers are EXTREMLY costly? There will always be enough experts out there to design an app for you. A scientist isn't likely going to write his own app for a super computer, he would hire someone that could make it work the best. A graphics designer isn't going to build their own distributed rendering software, they're going to get it made from someone else. Your fast car analogy is crap, because it's implying that Linux isn't usable. Just because you can't install it, doe
        • Re:Wake up, Bill (Score:2, Informative)

          by ma_luen ( 798746 )
          Yes but the issue is all the performance doesn't matter if your researchers aren't using it to solve problems. See http://www.darpa.mil/ipto/programs/hpcs/ [darpa.mil] for more info on this. This is the big HPC push that IBM, Cray, and SUN are participating in. Also a company that I think is kinda cool http://www.orionmulti.com/ [orionmulti.com] is working on a very common use of HPC tools by non-computer people. They are very focused on providing easy to use ultra low maintainance computational tools primarially for the bio-informatic
      • Re:Wake up, Bill (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jpetts ( 208163 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:18PM (#14038711)
        That's right. So, in quantum chemistry for example, you can run more accurate calculations with a faster computer, and thereby, it is hoped that more accurate, or at least applicable results will be obtained. Therefore, the "time to solution" is reduced. The same applies to CFD, bioinformatics, whatever. There will always be classes of problems where more compute power will give you more data, and possibly insights. Ergo, a faster machine, in the absence of any other factor, will be better for some classes of research.
      • combination of ease of programming for, ease of using, and of course running a data set on the machine.

        Which one of these has the biggest impact on overall performance? Certainly not "ease of using", which is what Bill says he's solved.
    • Re:Wake up, Bill (Score:5, Insightful)

      by schon ( 31600 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:06PM (#14038597)
      It's not even that - clusters aren't about shiny desktops, they're about custom-written apps.

      MS Excels at letting the computer illiterate do whatever MS has envisioned they might. You wanna connect to the internet via DSL? No problem. You wanna write an email to Grandma? No problem. You wanna do something that MS hasn't thought of yet? BIG Problem.

      Pretty much *anything* you do with a cluster is gonna be custom, "MS hasn't thought of this" stuff, and so will be harder to use, not easier.

      Why do I get the feeling that it will have a little version of Clippy asking "It looks like you're doing climatology variance research. Would you like me to help you model your data?"
    • I can't find the quote, but Google had a comment about how Linux allows Google to customize and control ANYTHING in pursuit of higher performance means a great deal to them. Google shouldn't have to wait on Microsoft to implement performance tweaks for them in the kernel.
    • Re:Wake up, Bill (Score:5, Informative)

      by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:10PM (#14038640) Journal
      Supercomputers aren't about "Ease of use."

      Obviously the comment about "easier to use" is inane when talking about supercomputers, but that quote was invented by the submitter. What the director of the HPC unit (not Gates) actually said was "...easier to integrate into what they are already doing".

    • Re:Wake up, Bill (Score:3, Insightful)

      But I think we all know that MS will be able to spend some of its cash reserves to produce a more scalable and industry-accepted solution than Linux with li[tt]le effort. Just like every other market Linux and Windows have competed in.
  • by From A Far Away Land ( 930780 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @05:56PM (#14038496) Homepage Journal
    The Opteron AMD processor is going into CRAY Supercomputers, so it only makes sense that Microsoft start making Windows for those AMD computers. What's next, a Beowulf cluster of Bill Gates?
  • Marketing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by didit ( 820432 )
    I've read many times here that having Linux in the top500 supercomputers list was not worth marketing because it is a niche. Now Microsoft is marketing a beta of what they dream might enter someday this list. Go figure ...
    • Re:Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <chris.travers@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:19PM (#14038717) Homepage Journal
      When I worked at Microsoft, I specifically argued *against* getting involved in HPC markets. It isn't really an interesting market. It isn't a big market. And it never will be. If anything it will get smaller rather than bigger. Yes, there are some applications that are not going away but these are not common. After all how many customers does Cray have? How many customers does Microsoft have? Ok, you have the answer to my question. Heck, the ISP and web presence provider markets are more important to Microsoft strategically than HPC.

      Indeed I cannot think of *any* reason why one would want Windows on an HPC cluster. Indeed, with Microsoft's reliance on COM and IPC stuff, I would be highly skeptical of using the Windows development environment in these cases. Yes, async I/O might be more mature on Windows, but I think that on the whole, Linux is a better choice.

      As for the ease of use factor. This is a product that is really only needed by a few highly technical people. Ease of use for beginners is not important here. Ease of use by experienced UNIX admins is. Sadly Windows fails here pretty badly. After all not everyone needs to build a Beowulf cluster with licensed Windows software in their basement and the intensive number crunching apps that such clusters are used for are the exception rather than the rule.


      Why not take Windows Server 2003 Standard or even XP Pro (for fewer than 10 nodes), install SFU 3.5 and PVM and build your cluster that way? It seems that this would be better for the market than this new product which seems to be the worst of both worlds.

      This is just about saying "Anything Linux can do Windows can do better" rather than pursuing any reasonable business plan.
      • Re:Marketing (Score:4, Insightful)

        by vondo ( 303621 ) * on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:29PM (#14039413)
        Indeed I cannot think of *any* reason why one would want Windows on an HPC cluster. Indeed, with Microsoft's reliance on COM and IPC stuff, I would be highly skeptical of using the Windows development environment in these cases. Yes, async I/O might be more mature on Windows, but I think that on the whole, Linux is a better choice.
        Why do Ford, Oldsmobile, Honda, you name it, get involved in Indy and Formula One racing:
        1. Prestige (branding)
        2. Research
        For whatever Microsoft spends improving Windows so that it can be used on today's supercomputers, the benefits they will reap for their server and workstation lines could easily repay that investment. I'm not at all sure they can make a go of it, but if they succeed it will help them a lot more than just selling some licenses for big iron.
        • Re:Marketing (Score:3, Interesting)

          by einhverfr ( 238914 )
          For whatever Microsoft spends improving Windows so that it can be used on today's supercomputers, the benefits they will reap for their server and workstation lines could easily repay that investment.

          Well, I disagree with you here. To be a quality node in a supercomputer, I would think you would want a lightweight kernel with an efficient and simple programing environment. You want the ability to strip down everything you don't need and keep everything as simple as possible.

          This sort of design has absolut
  • *yawn* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yahweh Doesn't Exist ( 906833 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:00PM (#14038540)
    he's actually claiming it's *as powerful* as linux!? why should that interest anyone, unless it's also as free?
  • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:00PM (#14038541) Homepage
    ... as we'll undoubtedly need a cluster to actually run Vista.
  • Piffle (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:02PM (#14038557)
    even claiming it to be as powerful and easier to use than Linux.

    I find Linux ease of use to be perfectly acceptable, and since they are not claiming better performance, I don't see an advantage.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:02PM (#14038564) Homepage
    The NY Times has this article [nytimes.com]. The opening paragraphs were a bit more intriguing:

    "In January a group of Microsoft researchers set out to discover how much computing power they could buy for less than $4,000 at a standard online retailer. They found the answer at NewEgg.com, where they were able to purchase - for just $3,632 - 9.5 gigaflops of computing speed. That is the amount of computing power offered by a Cray Y-MP supercomputer in 1991 at a cost of $40 million."
    • (free reg. required)

      Has th NY Times stopped asking people outside the US to register, becaause the last couple of times I've visited they havn't asked me, besideds, even when they used to, I used BugMeNot [bugmenot.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, its called an Apple G5 Xserve! (5GF rmax/CPU x 2 ~= 10GF for the $3000 cluster node) I'm sure the 970MP will make it into these at some point and that gets us 20GF/box (4 cores) Last time I checked you needed about 1000 of these boxes to get "noticed" on the Top 500 (see entry number 15 and 20.) If you can afford IBM Power5 boxes maybe you can take number 3.

      Somehow I think Windows Compute Cluster(fsck) Server 2003 does not run on the above hardware. Quick, there was just a November Top 500 list a
      • Alright, maybe Microsoft wants to be on the Top500, but I don't. If they can offer a solution that, through clustering techniques, is more reliable, faster, and more expandable than their current solution, those of us who want to make the Top500000 (ie. what it takes to run a medium size enterprise database, a website that won't slashdotted to oblivion, etc.), $100,000 would probably get us there with 25 top-of-the-line, off-the-shelf boxes. That's the linux solution.

        Now take into account an extra $25,000 (

    • 1991 to today is 14 years, or 9.33 cycles or Moore's law. 40 Mill, halved 10 times is $39,062.50. Since the article is talking about hardware for under $4k, the price is about a tenth of what was predicted.

      I'm not drawing any conclusions, just pointing this out.
  • The question is, how much will your average cluster be spending on Norton as a result of this?
  • that could make one...soooooo deluuuuusional? Do we see Radio Flyer entering their wagons in the Indianapolis 500? KMart renting a space at Fashion Island mall? Weekly World News reporters showing up at the Nobel Literature Awards "just in case they win"?
  • Will the supercomputer have a GUI? And will each node be required to run a GUI? That's one thing that I never liked about windows. Even your webserver and database servers have to waste resources running a GUI, even though it's perfectly possible to run such machines without a gui.
    • If you have a windows admin worth his salt, the overhead of the GUI is negligible, and the benefit of the GUI (being able to remote desktop in or switch the KVM to use good graphical tools that help you solve problems quicker. Like it or not there are good graphical tools when used with good console tools that can help you solve problems quickly) is irreplaceable.

      • If your admin is truly worth his salt, he won't *NEED* a GUI to work remotely - a shell is more than sufficient.
      • The nonsense comments about the overhead of a GUI are retarded. Who cares if less than a fraction of 1% of my system is being used by something I don't care about? It simply doesn't matter.

        However, there is no upside to a GUI. It offers a way for developers to write software that is difficult and time consuming to administer, and requires a much better connection for remote administration than ssh does. I have never found a single graphical tool that helps me admin anything, they are always a pain.
        • Re:Right and wrong. (Score:3, Informative)

          by cbreaker ( 561297 )
          Ohh, I like a good GUI. Note the fact that I said "good." The very thing I love about UNIX is that you can, and probably should, do everything via a text/command interface. It's a lot faster and easier to admin large numbers of UNIX boxes then Windows, in my experience. Not to mention UNIX is quite a bit more flexible when it comes to networking and data sharing.

          However, there's some things that gain great benefit from a GUI. Any sort of large scale user management, especially with a directory serv
  • "even claiming it to be as powerful and easier to use than Linux."

    Gates is also authoring a new book called "Supercomputing For Dummies", for all those super-computer admins who are frightened by command prompts.
  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:04PM (#14038585)
    Does this version continue to use share nothing and thus useful be mostly for high availablity? Or can resources now be shared concurrently between different nodes of the cluster and thus provide better performance?
  • by michael path ( 94586 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:04PM (#14038586) Homepage Journal
    Nothing says "Product of the Future" like the beta version of a product named "Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003".

    Sure, they're doing it to maintain the "2003" branding of the flagship server. But why, less than two months before the end of 2005, are they not even trying to sound modern?
  • Let us remember that much of Microsoft's revenue comes from the entire server/enterprise category, so it's no surprise Microsoft is going on the offensive and trying to compete with the power of Linux servers. Microsoft may act like its not scared, but clearly they are at least worried about the growing competition of Linux... especially if they always have to remind us how much "better (enter microsoft product here) is better than Linux."
    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:17PM (#14038702) Journal
      Look, it's one thing to support small clusters. That's a reasonably profitable market place, and I can't imagine a modern OS that is marketed as a server solution not offering that feature. But what we're talking about here is supercomputer clusters, beasties used in nuclear weapons research, weather forecasting and other forms of computational-intensive work. This isn't exactly a huge market. In fact it's a downright small one, dominated by custom applications and by a few companies with a lot of years of expertise in high end computing. This seems more an example of the sort of megalomonia that runs in the bloodstream at Redmond. "Yeah, we gotta have a presence in the supercomputer market! How come no one's modelling black holes or doing long-range climatological forecasting on Windows 2003?" What do they think, that supercomputers are going to be running Exchange 2003? "Oh yeah, baby, look at how fast Excel comes up now!" I'm used to the idea that Microsoft is going to try to dominate huge sectors of the computer industry, but supercomputers? It's as if Gates and his toadies are losing their collective marbles.
  • by dslauson ( 914147 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:05PM (#14038589) Journal
    I have to say, I just don't think developers will go for it. First of all, if you're setting up a cluster of, say, 20 machines to run some MPI programs, you're going to be funneling some serious coin microsoft's way.

    Secondly, I, like many developers, have been running MPI programs on Linux clusters for some time now. What's my incentive to switch? All I've got is penalties, like having to buy software and stuff. MPI is already free, open source software. So now MS sticks it in their OS and sell it as a new platform?

    At least for me, this is too little, too late. I'll do what I've been doing, which is run my parallel code on Linux.
  • Right.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    And if my grandmother had wheels she would be a trolley.
  • until (Score:4, Insightful)

    by akhomerun ( 893103 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:07PM (#14038610)
    bottom line is, until microsoft can build this OS to be HUGELY FASTER than linux, there's no reason to pay extra for something that doesn't have any speed advantages.

    i've never heard of the supercomputing crowd complaining about ease of use, they are looking for more calculations for less money, and for that linux/unix is probably still the best choice. there's no reason to pay thousands for an OS that doesn't increase your performance any further than an OS that costs $0
  • $1 million for this semi-supercomputer running the tried and tested server operating system Linux, under an open source license. Or $2 million for the same supercomputer running a server variant of the popular desktop operating system Windows, same performance, assuming advertisements don't lie, and under a license which limits the possibility of tweaking. Which will the client choose?
  • Hi Bill,

    How about you develop a "Super Windows"(TM) for normal PCs instead?

    Why a Windows for Supercomputer? Because they make superior bot nets?

    These are just some questions
  • by behindthewall ( 231520 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:17PM (#14038707)
    Blue Screens Per Second
  • by AFCArchvile ( 221494 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:23PM (#14038760)
    1. PHB sees Microsoft adverspamming for Windows Computer Cluster 2003, and believes the drivel.
    2. PHB makes case to execs, gets capital for an 80-node WCC2K3 cluster for eleventy billion dollars, thanks to Licensing 7.
    3. Admins shake their heads in disdain, get the thing running, and walk away.
    4. Developers waste time and resources reinventing the wheel.
    5. Nodes start to get rooted because the admins didn't harden the system.
    6. Organized crime groups use nodes to DDoS websites in the name of extortion.
    7. ...
    8. Profit! (for Microsoft, at least).
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:34PM (#14038856) Homepage
    A standard line from Bill, "wait till you see Vista its better", "wait till you see compute its faster".

    Amazingly the press continue to take Microsoft at face value on annoucing their version as better when they don't release what they announce.

    So sure MS is better at supercomputers... I mean they have such a history in it, just look at the top 500 its just littered with MS boxes.

    This isn't Windows v Linux, this is MS Research v IBM Research. The people behind the CPU, Relational databases, reliable messaging and of course the huge amount of work on massively scalable computers. If MS had real ability they'd be working with the big processing boys from the goverment and weather prediction areas.

  • Am I the only one that misread that, at first?

    I could have sworn it actually read, "Microsoft Complete Cluster F**k Server 2003"

    And, if you think about it... my misinterpretation might actually be closer to the truth. ;)
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:55PM (#14039100)
    My initial reaction was, didn't they already have supercomputers? Why is it labled 2003 when we are 47 days from 2006?

    An excellent use for these MS supercomputers is to host xbox MMORPGs that enable 10 million players at a time reenacting the opening fight scene from Lord of the Rings: FOTR. Each player will run towards the center, clash, fight and most likely die within the first 30 seconds of gameplay.
  • by vectorian798 ( 792613 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:06PM (#14039209)
    Security issues are irrelevant in a lot of cases. Scientific computing isn't done on computers attached to the internet...it is done on intranets consisting of specialized hardware streamlined for the needs of HPC. Most HPC programs don't even attach themselves to ethernet networks, but rather to things like Myrinet (bypass OS calls to reduce overhead GREATLY) that are intended for HPC. Being DDoS'd, or having a 'zombie cluster' etc are not really issues here.

    I think the advantage of a MS solution might be ease-of-use, especially in server clusters that are up for hire (that is, up for timesharing). If you are some group performing research that requries lots of power but aren't focused in a CS-related field, you may not have the resources to go use the (often arcane) parallel (MPI) debuggers etc. and churn out a top-grade program for a supercomputer. An MS solution might indeed be cheaper OVERALL because of time-to-solution (time = money). Let's face it, VS.NET is a dream to code in - compared to other well-featured IDE's like Eclipse, it is light-weight, easier to use (Eclipse has major bloat issues), etc. So who knows - as the article mentions, it might indeed become part of an end-to-end scientific process, where the computational parts seamlessly fit in.

    Furthermore, everyone who is talking about licenses per processor are not thinking properly...do you really think they would achieve penetration with the barrier to using the software so high? Of course not! Instead of speculating negatively, let's just wait and see what the licensing programs are when the product is released.

    My 2 cents
  • Purse Strings? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:33PM (#14039446)
    Regardless of what the folks who actually use the supercomputer want, there's always this administrator who signs off on the purchase who will say 'Windows, huh? Great. Now we can have one support contract that covers everything!'. The M$ Sales Rep takes him/her out to a couple fancy lunches and comes back with a signed contract.
  • by tonymus ( 671219 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:41PM (#14039528)
    ...when you need to run MS Word really, really fast.
  • by BigFootApe ( 264256 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:55PM (#14039643)
    There are a few features which Microsoft would have to implement on any OS targetted at cluster computing. Many are not directly within their control.

    First, and most important for users, what would be the APIs provided. Would Microsoft package MPI? PVM? Would they use a proprietary technology? XML based technologies are way too heavy for this application.

    Second, what interconnect transports would be provided? VIA, Globus, IB, good old stinky rsh encapsulation? What about independent vendors like Myricom and Dolphin? Would these companies be willing to support a substantially different architecture? Would there be enough customer demand for them to support Compute Cluster Server at the outset (MPICH-GM is old old old for Windows, Dolphonics and Scali are pretty well exclusively LINUX)?

    Third, what software will Microsoft be providing for remote batch management? You'd need a secure remote shell, good scripting functionality, non-GUI device management, etc.

    Lastly, how suitable is the NT kernel to doing this sort of work? VMS was ahead of basically everyone when it came to clustering technology, yet _nobody_ uses or used it for parallel processing. What are the lessons that can be applied to NT?

    There are a few clusters built on NT, but most of the ones mentioned on the Beowulf mailing list (and they are few) are networks of workstations with CONDOR installed which do double duty as computer clusters at night.
  • by winchester ( 265873 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @08:26AM (#14042548)
    Microsoft does not compete in the supercomputer market. Their offering is currently in beta, limited to 128 nodes, and none of the important "traditional" applications used in HPC run on it.

    To give an idea, 128 nodes will give you at most 512 processors (more becomes EXTREMELY inefficient). 512 processors will net you a place between 300 and 500 on the current top 500 list. This will be very different on the list to be released six months for now... such small clusters might not even show up.

    Then there is the user group of HPC systems. It is a VERYsmall market, with a userbase, a group of anministrators and a group of manufacturers traditionally used to UNIX, and now migrating to Linux in droves. Windows is not even duscussed. The announcement of the Windows Compute Cluster edition was cause for great hilarity at the workplace, where jokes like parallel word/excel and high-performance visual basic started floating around. No one will take Microsoft serious in that market.

    Perhaps Microsoft will sell some systems to some manufacturers, like in the automotive or pharmaceutical industry. But these guys already know the ways to traditional vendors selling them Linux clusters, vendors like SGI for instance. CHeck the SGI Manufacturing [sgi.com] page.

    So... will Microsoft compete? So far, they announced an operating system for clusters. Important questions remain:

    • Will the OS run headless?
    • What low latency networks will be supported?
    • Are MPI and OpenMP implementations available?
    • what about remote management, remote login and remote copy? (On a side note: why is it that Windows 2003 can't have simple stuff like ssh and scp built in?)
    • what applications will be available?
    I have to wait and see... i don't expect anything substantial to happen... and if Microsoft does this for prestige, they are wasting their money. -

Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there. -- Josh Billings