[Beowulf] SGI to offer Windows on clusters

Geoff Jacobs gdjacobs at gmail.com
Fri Jan 19 13:39:29 PST 2007

Ryan Waite wrote:
> I know some of you aren't, um, tolerant of Microsoft for various reasons
> but I thought I'd clear up a couple errors in some of the posts. If you
> hate Microsoft at least you now have an email address for when you're
> feeling grumpy.
> Pricing
> Retail pricing for Windows Server is about $750. Retail pricing for
> Compute Cluster Server (CCS) is around $470. Most users will get the
> product through either an OEM or a volume licensing agreement. In both
> cases they pay less than retail. Academic users can purchase CCS for
> less than $100.
> CCS is comprised of two CDs. The first is Windows Server. The second CD
> contains the clustering tools. The second CD has three major features:
> 1) a job scheduler, 2) systems management tools, and 3) Microsoft's MPI
> stack. The majority of HPC systems sold are small (less than 256 nodes)
> and we've designed for those customers. So, users get an OS, job
> scheduler, management package, and MPI stack for < $500.
What about compilers?

> Our MPI stack is based on MPICH2 but we've made performance and security
> enhancements. The folks at ANL are very talented UNIX developers but
> Windows is more efficient using async overlapped I/O. We've made other,
> similar changes to our stack and we're providing those changes back to
> ANL for incorporation in future MPICH stacks. We're also the first group
> at Microsoft making these kinds of sizable contributions back to the
> open source community.
As much as many of us might have issues with, err, the more aggressive
marketing strategies Microsoft has used in the past, I can certainly
appreciate people such as yourself - wanting to succeed by creating good
software - no matter where they work.

> These folks are great and I'm sure they have a lot to teach from their
> years in HPC. Also, we've hired people onto our HPC team from places
> like Platform Computing, Cray, Silverstorm and other related companies.
> While we may be new, and while v1 products may be a little rough, I
> think we're going to help the community bring HPC into mainstream
> computing.
I'm not sure that HPC will ever be mainstream. By definition, HPC
involves making trade-offs and pushing the envelope of what is possible
with modern computer technology. It is also somewhat limited in the
class of problem which it tackles. Mainstream (in my view) is synonymous
with general purpose.

Geoffrey D. Jacobs

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