Microsoft jumps into the HPC game

After kicking the decision around for a few months, Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced it would make its entry into the high-performance computing (HPC) arena and promised to deliver a version of Windows Server 2003 for that market sometime during the second half of 2005.

To be called Windows Server 2003 HPC, the upcoming version is expected to give various versions of Linux-based clusters a tougher run for their money. The new version will be targeted at applications involving parallel computing, engineering, and life sciences, all of which are markets where Linux-based systems have made significant inroads.

One of the advantages of the upcoming server will be offering developers a single and more simplified development environment for creating applications tuned for a range of high performance computing vertical markets. It will also come with tools to deploy and manage HPC clusters. Predictably, Microsoft officials said the new version will feature a secure HPC and have lower cost of ownership than competitive offerings.

Windows Server 2003 HPC will adhere to established industry standards including Message Passing Interface (MPI) for HPC, company officials said. That standard is now supported by several top-tier hardware and software suppliers including IBM Corp., Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

The company has yet to decide on either packing or pricing and likely will not until the product is much closer to general availability, a company spokesperson said.

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