Windows HPC server hits first public beta

but did not provide pricing

Microsoft Tuesday shipped the first public beta of its Windows HPC Server 2008, the successor to its Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 for high-performance computing.

Besides changing the name, Microsoft said the new version, based on the forthcoming Windows Server 2008, will add high-speed networking, cluster management tools, advanced failover capabilities, a service-oriented architecture (SOA) job scheduler, and support for third-party clustered file systems.

Microsoft Monday released pricing on Windows Server 2008, but did not provide pricing for HPC Server.

Microsoft officials said the name change reflects a readiness to tackle the most challenging HPC workloads.

Windows Compute Cluster Server (CCS) 2003 rose from a Microsoft Research project introduced in 2000. CCS 2003 shipped in August 2006 and was Microsoft's entry into the battle with Linux to provide platforms for research and other compute intensive workloads. Linux is clearly the dominant player in the market with Microsoft battling to prove its mettle.

The new HPC Server will battle Red Hat, which Tuesday unveiled plans to ship its new Red Hat HPC Solution before the end of the year. List price for the server in US$12,000 for 16-nodes and US$45,000 for 64 nodes.

Users can download the Windows HPC Server 2008 beta from the Microsoft Web site. The final version of the server is slated to ship in the second half of 2008.

Microsoft's HPC platform combines the operating system with a message passing interface (MPI) and a job scheduler from Platform Computing into a single package.

Red Hat also is partnering with Platform Computing on its HPC technology.

Microsoft plans to integrate HPC Server with its System Center tools for application-level monitoring and rapid provisioning and SQL Server Reporting Services for capacity planning and auditing.

In addition, Microsoft unveiled the Parallel Computing Initiative, which focuses on desktops and clusters. The initiative adds Parallel Extensions to the .Net Framework that enable developers to improve efficiency and scalability of parallel applications. Microsoft will ship previews of the technology within the next 180 days.

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