News

HPC Server 2008 RC1 Coming This Month

At the International Supercomputing Conference being held this week in Germany, Microsoft announced that it will roll out the first release candidate (RC1) of its Windows HPC Server 2008 for high-performance computing in the last week of June.

Beta tests of the server are being conducted now. A system running a beta of HPC Server 2008 on Dell PowerEdge hardware, based at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, placed today at No. 23 on the list top 500 supercomputing sites for June.

As reported previously, "hundreds" of universities have been beta testing HPC Server 2008, the successor to Microsoft's Compute Cluster Server 2003 (CCS 2003). Of these, the NCSA system, called Abe, ranks the highest so far on the top-500 list, churning out 68.48 teraflops maximal LINPACK performance (89.59 teraflops theoretical peak). It uses 2,400 quad-core Intel Xeon 2.3 GHz processors (1,200 dual-socket PowerEdge 1955s for 9,600 cores total), with each processor sporting 4 GB memory for 9,600 GB total memory.

"Our experience with Windows HPC Server 2008 has been impressive," said Robert Pennington, deputy director of the NCSA, in a statement released to coincide with the announcement. "Deploying it was much easier than we expected, and the performance results have surpassed our expectations. 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. The performance of Windows HPC Server 2008 has yielded efficiencies that are among the highest we've seen for this class of machine."

The second-largest HPC Server 2008 (beta) cluster, out of Umea University in Sweden, was announced earlier this week. That system, called Akka, comprises mixed hardware and software: 672 IBM HS21XM Blades with Xeon quad-core processors, along with IBM Cell BE-blades and Power6-blades, producing 46.04 teraflops maximal and a peak 54 teraflops theoretical on HPC Server 2008. A dual-boot system, Akka also runs Linux. It came in at No. 39 on the new top-500 list.

Microsoft said a download of Windows HPC Server 2008 will be available at the end of June. Further information can be found here.

About the Author

Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters.