Seattle (WA) – Microsoft expands Windows into a new territory of computing: Today the company released the Beta 2 of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, which aims to take supercomputing “mainstream” and make high performance computing (HPC) more accessible. Chairman Bill Gates is scheduled to detail the firm’s strategy in a speech at the Supercomputing 2005 conference.
While Microsoft’s Windows has achieved a dominating market penetration in virtually all areas of mass-market computing, the operating system is completely absent in the most prestigeous segment – supercomputing. With the release of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 Beta 2, Microsoft takes a first step into an arena that traditionally has been populated by Linux, Unix variants and AIX environments.
Microsoft built its strategy on a growing interest in high performance computing not only from academic, government and research institutions, but also from private industry. According to the company, the operating system will offer a higher level of integration, will be easier to use and maintain than existing systems. To support its entry into the HPC segment, Microsoft’s aid it will establish 10 Institutes for High-Performance Computing in conjunction with universities and researchers around the world, including the University of Stuttgart (Germany), the University of Southampton (UK) and Nizhni Novgorod State University
“For the past two or three decades, supercomputing has been the domain of the few, with specialized custom hardware and software systems – a niche market focused on raw computation,” said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft server and tools business, in a statement posted on Microsoft’s website today. “However, scientific discoveries in the last decade have signaled a need for increased collaboration among scientists, as well as the ability to manage an increasing amount of data being generated by automated tools, such as sensors, satellites and others. We’ve also seen new segments of the market – such as departments within commercial industry – asking for access to HPC technology, which has historically been difficult to manage and afford.” he said.
According to Muglia, Microsoft’s motivation to enter the supercomputing challenge was based on the notion that “HPC is moving into mainstream commercial segments where it didn’t exist previously.” He mentioned that Microsoft has been working on HPC for about five years. Now would be the time to take a chance to take supercomputing more mainstream, he believes: “Based on our research to date, we know that for mainstream customers to take advantage of HPC systems, these systems need to be easier to deploy, use and manage – and more cost effective. We’ve also heard that the solutions available today are both too costly and complex – both major barriers to adoption.”
Bill Gates is expected to outline Microsoft’s supercomputing approach in more detail in his speech at the Supercomputing conference. Muglia said that Gates will describe Windows’ role as connector of disparate computational center resources, data sources and researchers.