[Beowulf] Win64 Clusters!!!!!!!!!!!!

Miller Ross ross.miller at safetynetsolutions.com
Mon Apr 2 13:04:43 PDT 2007

The fundamental problem we as an industry face is that the consistent  
pattern of MS is to adopt and expand and then break compatibility  
with other folks technologies.
Actually, I don't have a problem with this competition, the problem  
is when any company claims an idea as their own, when in fact it is  
not theirs.
This pattern has happened again and again, and is part of the  
business model of the company as well as a cultural issue within that  
In short MS is a community in and of itself, and very often (though  
certainly not always), this community does not share or play well  
with others.
I think we also all recognize that this is a very old battle going  
back way beyond the birth of Microsoft to the 60's and proprietary  
versus non-proprietary business models.

However, as I see it they have a severe problem -- a Flat stock curve  
oscillating between roughly $25 and $30 for the last 5 years.  That  
is indicative of a stable business model, but I think we all know  
that without growth, shrinkage ;), is inevitable.

Being behind the curve consistently is what is doing them in, the  
copy and adopt model doesn't work in the current business climate:
Java -> Response C#
Google -> Response MS-Search
IPod -> various MP3 players and a new format, WMA
Itunes store -> on-line music sales with DRM
Amiga -> Win 95 (windows gets multi-tasking for real (well, sorta  
kinda anyway))
AIM -> MSN Messenger
and of course
Beowulf -> HPC  ((outcome to be determined))

But let's look at Early MS software

CPM -> DOS (a big upgrade)  ((yes, I wrote code for both))
DOS -> DOS with background tasking (printer drivers)
DOS -> Windows (a big upgrade)
PC-Write -> Word
MS-Project 1.0
Lotus  -> Excel

Here we seen more genuine innovation, not simple 'mee too'.  Though I  
would say the Lotus to Excel is more arguable if it was a big step  
Unless MS starts to really embrace innovation and not put flight  
simulators into Excel, while the actual spreadsheet program will  
produce erroneous results (yes, I used the version that had the  
flight sim easter egg, and had to by hand check my quotes before  
giving them to clients and catch simple addition errors)).

That said, we as an industry do owe Microsoft one significant debt.   
The standardization of Microcomputer hardware.  Up until DOS the  
world was so fragmented it was impossible to launch anything in the  
software, or even specialized hardware arena using economies of  
scale.  With the world standardizing on the PC platform with DOS   
stability and real desktop productivity gains became possible.  Alan  
Greenspan addressed congress in 1997. Having watched the address I  
was personally impressed with his statement that the US. per-capita  
GDP was dramatically higher than any other nation at that time,  
because the US had a PC on pretty much every worker's desk that  
needed access to a PC.  Microsoft brought the US that  
standardization, and those productivity gains.

To the best of my recollection it went.

U.S. 1.0 (normalized)
Japan .92
Germany .87
UK same range
and it went WAY down from there.

That same low cost microcomputer is what we base our Beowulf clusters  
on today, essentially a more reliable beefier version of a desktop  
PC.  Just as we don't want Beowulf to be overridden by 'adopt,  
assimilate, and expand', we should give the credit where credit is  
due that we are not using Commodore 64's, TI's, Atari's, or DEC-  
Rainbows as cluster nodes.


On Apr 2, 2007, at 3:07 PM, Joe Landman wrote:

> Douglas Eadline wrote:
>> I believe that if we do not protect against revisionist history, then
> [...]
> you mean like how now with WCCS2k+3 clustering and HPC is *now*  
> (suddenly magically spontaneously) "mainstream" ?
> This is just something I personally take issue with.  The entire  
> explosive growth of clustering has driven HPC hard into the  
> mainstream.  This happened long before it was a glimmer in their  
> eyes.  6+ years of explosive growth, going from noise in the  
> statistics to dominating the statistics.  Then along they came with  
> WCCS2k+3.
> Their entry is late into the cycle.  And if you listen to the  
> comments of the senior execs, it makes one wonder how committed  
> they are to HPC and clusters as compared to how committed they are  
> to battling Linux.
> This is not to diminish their efforts.  WCCS2k+3 is likely  
> reasonably good for some subset of groups.  Microsoft has some good  
> people there, and playing with the W2k+3 x64 on our JackRabbit unit  
> was fun.  They still need a real POSIX subsystem, and hopefully,  
> someday, they will give in, and get cygwin or mingw to be fully  
> supported/shipping using their compilers/tools.
> Though I expect to see airborn and stable flight from porcine  
> critters about the same time.  Too bad, as that would likely ease  
> adoption/porting issues.  Tremendously.
> -- 
> Joseph Landman, Ph.D
> Founder and CEO
> Scalable Informatics LLC,
> email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
> web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
> phone: +1 734 786 8423
> fax  : +1 734 786 8452 or +1 866 888 3112
> cell : +1 734 612 4615
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