[Beowulf] SGI to offer Windows on clusters

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Thu Jan 18 16:41:31 PST 2007

On Thu, 18 Jan 2007, Jim Lux wrote:

> And likewise, WinXP on the desktop.  A company with 20,000 WinXP desktops 
> cannot tolerate BSODs and mystery hangs on a significant fraction of those 
> desktops at any frequency.  When your call center operators are being timed 
> to the second, the sysadmin folks know INSTANTLY when there are problems.
> But, just as in the server application, the configurations are rigorously 
> controlled and tested.  It's certainly not the usual home computer with 
> umpty-five downloaded widgets, etc.

Even with strong controls and an instantly reinstallable system image,
WinXX boxes are corrupted once a month or so in our labs.  Too many
things that can go wrong.  Fortunately, they've dropped the
reinstallation time to almost nothing.

>> Linux remains around the 1% level in US desktop occupancy, and even in
>> the pacific rim where its numbers are the best it only makes it to 3% or
>> so (the rest are doubtless mostly bootleg WinXX).  The largest monopoly
>> ever to exist in the history of the world laughs at these numbers.  On
>> the broader server market Linux fares better, but it is still very much
>> David against Goliath where David may appear sometimes to be winning,
>> but Goliath has yet to be hit in the head with any kind of stone.
> More like grains of sand being dribbled about the feet.

Well 1% of a person's height would TECHNICALLY be somewhere between 1
and 2 cm.  And in the server arena, it would be quite a bit higher.
Say, small pebbles to just the kind of rocks one can turn an ankle

I should have used a different metaphor, though.  Microsoft so far has
been to Linux like Fezzik was with Westley in The Princess Bride,
tolerating its occassional blows.  "I just want you to feel you're doing
well.  I have for people to die embarrassed..."

>> Basically, MS's cluster product is almost certainly designed to do two
>> things.  One is provide them with a credible presence in the cluster
>> market not because it is particularly important to them as a profit
>> center but because hurting linux and the other unices strengthens their
>> position in the general server market in many ways.  They do not want
>> <snip>
> I think it's also to support the turnkey software vendors who need a platform 
> with more compute crunch for their existing Windows application.  Think 
> finite element models of one kind or another.  If your application costs 
> $50K/seat, a kilobuck or two for an OS isn't a big deal.

As I said, they might want to make money, sure, and although they MIGHT
do it at a loss if they thought it was important enough they certainly
would rather not.  I think they'll make money, but probably not a lot.
It's almost like developing a new business, and there is plenty of
competition even though of course they'll exploit their advantages where
they help.


Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

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