[Beowulf] FYI: HPC Server 2008 hits top 25

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Jun 24 08:45:40 PDT 2008


Fastest-ever Windows HPC Cluster

By Chris Preimesberger


Running a beta of Windows HPC Server 2008, supercomputer hits 68.5 teraflops.

Microsoft fastest-yet homegrown supercomputer, running the U.S. company's new
Windows HPC Server 2008, debuted in the top 25 of the world's top 500 fastest
supercomputers, as tested and operated by the National Center for
Supercomputing Applications.

The supercomputer, built and maintained in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, ranked
No. 23 in the world with a problem-solving performance of 68.5 teraflops. The
announcement was made June 18 at the International Supercomputing conference
in Dresden, Germany.

The NCSA used the beta version of Windows HPC Server 2008 to reach the
68.5-teraflop (68.5 trillion floating point operations per second) level. It
runs on commodity hardware and reported 77.7 percent application efficiency
on 9,472 cores, making this facility one of the most powerful supercomputing
systems in the world and the fastest Windows cluster to date.

Most of the cores were made up of Intel Xeon quad-core chips. Storage for the
system was about 6 terabytes.

"When we deployed Windows on our cluster, which has more than 1,000 nodes, we
went from bare metal to running the Linpack benchmark programs in just four
hours," said Robert Pennington, deputy director of the NCSA.

"The performance of Windows HPC Server 2008 has yielded efficiencies that are
among the highest we've seen for this class of machine," Pennington said.

Microsoft announced that the final release candidate version of Windows HPC
Server 2008 will be available for download during the last week of June.

Key features of Windows HPC Server 2008 include: high-speed networking; new,
scalable cluster management tools; advanced failover capabilities; a
service-oriented architecture job scheduler; and support for clustered file
systems from some of Microsoft partners.

Microsoft, which got rich producing PC operating systems and applications,
has been investing heavily in research and development in high-performance
computing for about the last eight years.

In fact, the world's largest software company currently employs hundreds of
engineers whose sole job it is to conceptualize and develop new products for
the burgeoning HPC market, which research company IDC reports is the
fast-growing sector in IT, at 19.5 percent per year.

According to IDC, during the next five years the HPC server market is
projected to show healthy, steady growth. The researcher expects revenue for
the total HPC server market to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 9.2
percent to reach $18 billion by 2012.

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