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Fastest-Ever Windows HPC Cluster

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the class-envy dept.

Microsoft 216

An anonymous reader links to an eWeek story which says that Microsoft's "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. ... Most of the cores were made up of Intel Xeon quad-core chips. Storage for the system was about 6 terabytes," and asks "I wonder how the uptime compares? When machines scale to this size, they tend to quirk out in weird ways."

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finally (5, Funny)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917611)

Enough power to run vista.

Re:finally (4, Interesting)

Zashi (992673) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917671)

You've no idea how right you are.

I got to test Server 2008 before it was released to the public. All our internal applications identified 2008 as "Vista".

Re:finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23919635)

Of course win server 2k8 is identified as vista. Windows server is nothing more than the normal OS with a few tidbits of server software that you get for free (in unlimited versions, along with lots more) with a decent server OS like Linux or BSD.

Re:finally (5, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919785)

I got to test Server 2008 before it was released to the public. All our internal applications identified 2008 as "Vista".

I have no idea why this is modded Informative.

Vista uses the NT kernel, version 6.0, build 6000. SP1 puts it up to 6001.
Server 2008 uses the NT kernel, version 6.0, build 6001.

Is it any surprise that software build prior to Server 2008 being released see it as Vista?

In related news, both Ubuntu 8.04 and Fedora 9 report being Linux v2.6.

Re:finally (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919905)

I'm more curious as to why nobody's noticed that his INTERNAL software incorrectly identifies the OS.

Re:finally (5, Funny)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917727)

Enough power to run vista.

But not Crysis :(

Re:finally (3, Funny)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917791)

mmm that may make a very nice addition to my botnet. Wonder what it has for network bandwidth?

Re:finally (3, Funny)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917989)

So, what does one do when their cluster BSODs?

Re:finally (1)

zeridon (846747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918683)

but of course reboot ... or just to be sure kill the power

Re:finally (5, Funny)

TRS80NT (695421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918201)

But you still have to turn off Aero.


Re:finally (4, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918443)

But you still have to turn off Aero.

Only because they cut some corners and went with integrated graphics on the motherboard.

Re:finally (1, Funny)

MPAB (1074440) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919629)

How quick does it BSOD?

Linux? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917619)

But does it run linux?

Re:Linux? (3, Informative)

Just some bastard (1113513) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918287)

But does it run linux?
It can but isn't, [top500.org] however this one [top500.org] does :)

Re:Linux? (1)

lostokie (1229804) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918553)

And yet this [stanford.edu] is still more than twice as fast as the #1 slot.

I hate myself for posting this (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917673)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these

That's ok... (5, Funny)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917821)

So does everyone else.

Every Tuesday... (5, Funny)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917729)

"Your cluster has just finished downloading an update, would you like to reboot now?"

Re:Every Tuesday... (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919227)

Or even better, the system will automatically reboot in 30 seconds, unless you manage to rush to the console quickly enough. Good luck, Dave...

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917731)

does it blend?

(figured we needed to get all the regular /. comments out of the way)

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917917)

grrrr....

I meant "WILL" it blend... :P

Clustered Windows Boxes! (5, Interesting)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917743)

The Windows Server 2K8 code base must be better than previous versions of Windows. From what I understood, Windows didn't scale for clustering due to problems with file locking (IIRC, the overhead for tracking locks grew quickly enough that the performance was marginalized past about 4 nodes). Unless they're using an iSCSI SNS server that handles the locks over a clustered file system. Still, this is leaps and bounds beyond previous versions of Windows WRT clustering!

Define 'clustering' (2, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917941)

Clustering in the sense I think you are discussing is the HA-clustering stuff. HPC clustering is a tad different.

Re:Define 'clustering' (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918439)

Do you happen to have a good resource for learning about HPC clustering in Windows? I'm not a Windows guy, but I'd be curious myself how it goes.

I imagine the base overhead of the OS cuts into each node's computing power, wouldn't it?

Re:Define 'clustering' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23919749)

Re:Clustered Windows Boxes! (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918827)

They aren't running Windows Sever 2008. They are running Windows HPC Server 2008 beta. I don't know the difference but it's enough that they gave it a new name. It might be 2008 that has been highly optimized for HPC applications. Also it's a beta so the code base may or may not make it into 2008.

Not "clustering" (3, Informative)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919397)

A Windows MSCS cluster is essentially for fail-over/HA purposes. This is for high-performance purposes, and explictly excludes use as an application or database server. From the FAQs (although this is for 2003):

Windows Compute Cluster Server is licensed for use with HPC applications. HPC applications solve complex computational problems using several servers as a group, also called a cluster, to solve a single computational problem or a single set of closely related computational problems. Applications that run on a single server are not considered HPC applications. Applications that are distributed across multiple servers may not be considered HPC applications, unless they are working on a set of closely related computational problems.

You may not use Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition (CCE) as a general purpose server, database server, e-mail server, print server or file server. In order to allow Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 to be offered at a lower price, its server roles are restricted to computational use only. For example, if users want to install Microsoft SQL(TM) Server 2005 on a cluster node, they will need to purchase and install a full version of Windows Server 2003 64-bit Standard Edition or Windows Server 2003 64-bit Enterprise Edition on that cluster node. To maintain licensing compliance, Windows CCE takes advantage of a feature in Windows Server Standard to protect these applications from being executed. Please see the Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 Pricing and Licensing page for more information.

Will it run Vista? (0, Offtopic)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917753)

Bah! Beat me to it ;)

Re:Will it run Vista? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917795)

Yes, but not Crysis...

Welcome Windows! (5, Funny)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917835)

And with the easily affordable CALs, up to 11 users will be able to use it at the same time! (well 8, 2 CALs will prolly be used by junior admins, and one for "test")

Questions (0, Flamebait)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917851)

Anyone know the fastest Windows HPC cluster *not* built by Microsoft purely as a marketing exercise to say 'look we can do HPC?'. And that actually gets used.

How does a Windows HPC cluster present itself? Do you submit batch jobs from a GUI?

Re:Questions (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917943)

Do you submit batch jobs from a GUI?

I have no idea, but I'm gonna cry if the answer is "Yes, just use remote desktop..."

-l

Re:Questions (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917977)

Yes, just use remote desktop...

(had to be done for Luyseyal's benefit)

Ask Ballmer . . . (2, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918089)

How does a Windows HPC cluster present itself? Do you submit batch jobs from a GUI?

. . . maybe with a tossed chair . . . ?

Re:Questions (2, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918223)

Yes, #23 a Dell cluster for NCSA. You can download the results in XLS format and then do a sort to quickly find data like that =)

Re:Questions (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918235)

The new version of Windows Cluster Compute Server [microsoft.com] can work more like a traditional supercomputer, with MPI, batch scheduling, etc. While I haven't seen or used it yet, I've heard Microsoft talking about it for a while now, telling everyone how they finally have the tools more traditional HPC systems have.

Re:Questions (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918327)

Great. So why not err... save loads of money and just do it on Linux or Solaris?

Re:Questions (1)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23920001)

Great. So why not err... save loads of money and just do it on Linux or Solaris?
If you're looking for replies, you asked the wrong question.

Answers (3, Informative)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918407)

I don't, but there's a lot of information at the home page [microsoft.com] . Including links to case studies for NASCAR [microsoft.com] , Daresbury [microsoft.com] , etc., etc.

Including FAQs [microsoft.com] . And, finally, the answer to the burning question: will it run Linux?

The application vendor is the best source for determining if your UNIX- or Linux-based application will run on Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003. Note that Microsoft Compute Cluster Pack in CCS can take advantage of 32- and 64-bit versions of Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications (SUA) on Windows Server 2003 Release 2 (R2), which may be required to run UNIX or Linux applications.

Re:Questions (1)

mhore (582354) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918427)

How does a Windows HPC cluster present itself? Do you submit batch jobs from a GUI?

From the FAQ [microsoft.com] command line submission is supported, which to me sort of implies that there must also be a graphical submission method.

M.

Re:Questions (1)

joeytmann (664434) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918535)

Considering Window 2008 HPC Server is still in beta, I highly doubt it. Give it a few more months.

It might be able to run Vista... (-1, Redundant)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917859)

but can it run linux?

Re:It might be able to run Vista... (2, Insightful)

MrMr (219533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918325)

Sure, just pop in a Rocks cd and hit the power switch. That will format the harddrives for you as well.

Quirk Out? (3, Funny)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917879)

When machines scale to this size, they tend to quirk out in weird ways
Just leave the doctype out and it'll revert to quirks mode. Should work as "intended" even if it does follow the standard.

But... (-1, Redundant)

silvershadow (101700) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917971)

...does it run Linux?

Dear Microsoft (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917973)

"Microsoft Windows" and "Super Computer" are by definition mutually exclusive. What next, powering a jet fighter using a propeller?

In other news... [sgi.com]

Re:Dear Microsoft (2, Informative)

kazoo boy (1307731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918247)

Actually... When America tested it's first fighter jet it had a dummy propeller.

But why?! (1, Funny)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918003)

In other news, IBM debuts world's fastest punch card reader...

Re:But why?! (2, Interesting)

Kingston (1256054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918681)

It looks like Microsoft engineers have been working with the NCSA and a beta version of Microsoft HPC server 2008 as part of a Microsoft marketing push for this software. The marketing pdf is here [microsoft.com] . Microsoft want to increase their foothold in HPC, it's a growing, high margin market.

Re:But why?! (2, Interesting)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919735)

It's growing yes but its actually a very low margin market. The whole idea of an HPC cluster is saving money.

Somehow I doubt it's the margins so much as the fact that Linux dominates it and they are afraid Linux will use that to gain a foothold elsewhere.
 

BSOD (3, Funny)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918173)

Such a powerful cluster should get from power-up to BSOD instantly!

Re:BSOD (1)

Clanked (1156473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918543)

Bah, I had an old ME machine that would do that. No super computer needed. :)

Re:BSOD (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919907)

I've had two older laptops do that after a routine Windows XP update.
They're running Ubuntu nicely now.

but does it run ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918329)

my favorite pet opensource project, and while I'm at it, "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those ..."

Re:but does it run ... (1)

Walruzoar (514362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919781)

Yes, but can it run Lin.... Oh, never mind.

KmoD up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918359)

core team. They suuden and the problems

Only six teras ? (2, Interesting)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918373)

So.... six terabytes... isn't that horribly small by today's standards ? I mean, our small backup server here is 2 teras, it's just a cheap PC with a bunch of SATA drives in it.

Does that mean my gaming rig and media server, when combined, constitute an "HPC Cluster" worthy of the top 100 ?

Ghey.

Re:Only six teras ? (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918675)

I can only assume that they got that storage number wrong. We had more than 8T of storage for a couple of our small (a few hundred cores) IBM power4 cluster in 2005. Normal compute clusters have 1-2G of ram per core, which means they should have atleast 9T of RAM in this cluster of 9k cores.

Re:Only six teras ? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918833)

So.... six terabytes... isn't that horribly small by today's standards ?

Depends what you're doing with it. Suppose a bunch of netbooting, diskless nodes designed for doing calculations stored in RAM; 6TB might be plenty for that setup.

Obligatory... (4, Funny)

Undead NDR (1252916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918857)

So.... six terabytes... isn't that horribly small by today's standards ?

Should be enough for everyone.

Re:Only six teras ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23919255)

not sure why parent is modded troll. Our HPC cluster's drive array is 65TB.

*yawns* (1, Informative)

painehope (580569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918463)

So what? Microsoft has been putting up huge booths at the annual Supercomputing Conference, even sponsored one, for years now. No one takes them seriously. They even bought a whole lab for some university that I'm too lazy to look up, and from what I heard, it was a complete flop (no pun intended, though that's probably all the performance you can expect on a real world application).


Supercomputing is the one area where Linux is the dominant operating system. Period. AIX still plays, but that's about it. Just check out top500.org if you don't believe me, the June list just came out. Though the IBM Blue Gene machines do run a proprietary microkernel on the individual computational nodes (the user-accessible nodes are Linux).

Re:*yawns* (1)

chthon (580889) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918819)

I find it weird, with all the uptake of Linux in HPC, that the university of Antwerp (Belgium) some time ago bought a Sun based HPC cluster. Probably something to do with PHA (pointy-haired administrators).

Re:*yawns* (1)

painehope (580569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919955)

I couldn't find anything on what OS it was running, but remember that Sun sells a lot of x86_64 (or x64, whatever) equipment for HPC. And most of it is running Linux. And the "uptake" is nothing new - Linux has been dominant for years, and the "uptake" started sometime around 2000. It's just that most major vendors didn't officially support Linux until later.


That's not to say that Solaris 10 isn't nice, but it's not free, doesn't have the grip on the HPC market, and OpenSolaris is too fragmented and immature, IMHO, for any serious HPC deployments.

Re:*yawns* (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919229)

While Linux is dominant, other systems do make it into the list. [top500.org] . After Linux, comes mixed, then Unix. The #4 cluster is a Sun cluster created for The University of Texas at Austin.

Re:*yawns* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23919387)

which runs linux you idiot!

Re:*yawns* (2, Interesting)

labmonkey09 (992534) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919815)

There is a difference between super computing and HPC. Up till now Linux has had little to compete with in scaled out HPC rigs. Allot of that has to do with node pricing and the fact that Sun has been asleep at the wheel (no pun intended - if know SunOs you should be laughing). However, priced right this and Solaris are a real competative threat for Linux. Linux is not a great platform for HPC. The kernel doesn't scale to extreme levels (total througput pegs early) and Tx latencey gets pretty wide at the top end. You have to over-scale to flatten the latencey curve and this causes other problems that can affect throughput like locality of data. Solaris is a great platform because it provides low latency spread, good througput and solid reliability. Windows (believe it or not) provides the highest total throughput under a given load with a given hardware set but it's latencey is not as good as Solaris.

Re:*yawns* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23919927)

Yawn (verb): what the hare did when it thought the turtle would never catch up.

Super, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918489)

What about taking a super shit? God I gotta dump out.... I got my eye on YOU!

New clippy quotes (4, Funny)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918513)

"It looks like you're breaking into the top 25 fastest supercomputers. Would you like me to fix that?"

I run several Windows Clusters (4, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918541)

and I have a very hard time believing most of the claims of fact in this story.

"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,"

Hmmm. And what installer was this? Is it available commercially? How much is the license for the version with this mythical four-hour installer?

"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.

What "class" would that be? I imagine it would explicitly exclude Free clusters.

One should question whether the efficacy of any institution/research project using their grant money wisely given the amount of money required to fulfill Microsoft's licensing requirements.

Furthermore, If research projects are actually considering wasting their grant dollars on Microsoft licenses, then the outlook for American R&D is grim.

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918735)

"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"

Four Hours! what took them so long?

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (3, Funny)

Ai Olor-Wile (997427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919163)

Why, getting activation keys for all of those nodes, of course.

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (1)

MajroMax (112652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918785)

Furthermore, If research projects are actually considering wasting their grant dollars on Microsoft licenses, then the outlook for American R&D is grim.

As other comments mention, Windows systems simply aren't considered when it comes to HPC. This is the first good Windows HPC publicity I can remember hearing. I would wager that Microsoft donated the software licenses for this cluster gratis.

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918907)

Wrong. Software was purchasd. Windows Academic pricing is quite reasonable.
http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/programs/education/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (0, Troll)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919195)

Hmmm... Reasonable eh?

1. The url provided has no prices whatsoever. Imagine that!

2. What are the license constraints in this academic pricing? You know, razors are darn cheap compared to the price of razor blades. That first line of coke is pretty cheap too.

I know the price of my preferred clusters, $0. Usage constraints? None. http://debianclusters.cs.uni.edu/index.php/Main_Page [uni.edu]

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (2, Insightful)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919335)

Compared to?

Last time I checked, the major alternative was free. The expensive part is finding someone who knows how to specify the hardware and set it up. That must be even harder for Windows, given the number of previous successful installs.

I'd love to know how they intend to license this - per node?

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918927)

I would wager that Microsoft donated the software licenses for this cluster gratis.

They used a beta version, so it's probably free (as in beer).

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (2, Insightful)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919039)

So basically you have no facts, but you're writing them off as idiots because they used the MS package. Nevermind they might be saving money in the long run by paying less people to administrate it because the MS tools get the job done. Or perhaps that they don't have to spend time tweaking things for months because MS has assigned them resources to do this. Let's just assume they're idiots and are wasting money, because if MS is involved, that MUST be it!!!11

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (4, Informative)

Monoman (8745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919205)

I'm no MS fanboy but I think someone should make a few points.

"I run several Windows Clusters"
and I have a very hard time believing most of the claims of fact in this story.

I think you might be confusing Windows clustering with MS Compute Cluster (appears to be called HPC now). Windows clustering is used to provide fault tolerant applications where if one fails another node will fire up an instance to replace it. Compute Cluster is for spreading out computations across many active nodes. The HPC nodes do some calculations and return the results back. I guess like SETI.

Hmmm. And what installer was this? Is it available commercially? How much is the license for the version with this mythical four-hour installer?

I think the article said this was all done with HPC 2008 beta. You can find out pricing info here: http://www.microsoft.com/hpc/ [microsoft.com]

"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.

What "class" would that be? I imagine it would explicitly exclude Free clusters.

PC class, not big iron or whatever you want to call those expensive IBM thingys.

One should question whether the efficacy of any institution/research project using their grant money wisely given the amount of money required to fulfill Microsoft's licensing requirements.

Furthermore, If research projects are actually considering wasting their grant dollars on Microsoft licenses, then the outlook for American R&D is grim.

In general I agree. However, I would be surprised if this cost them much at all besides time. They are probably a large enough customer that they get many MS products and services for free. In addition, the publicity for MS makes it worth it to MS to offer tons of incentives. I work at an EDU org and MS pricing is a lot less than retail ... a lot less.

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919761)

However, I would be surprised if this cost them much at all besides time. They are probably a large enough customer that they get many MS products and services for free.
Except it isn't "free." Someone way outside your pay grade signed a contract and might have paid Microsoft. (or not if the customer is a good PR win)

In addition, the publicity for MS makes it worth it to MS to offer tons of incentives.
This story is an advertisement disguised as news.

I work at an EDU org and MS pricing is a lot less than retail ... a lot less.
And a Linux-based cluster is even less. I don't see any motivation to maximize the educational institutions resources in your response. None!

Now more than ever, I'm concerned about the basic capabilities of American research institutions maximize their resources. Sigh...

Re:I run several Windows Clusters (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919969)

"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.

What "class" would that be?

Why, the set of Windows clusters of course.

Where is Bill who tells us... (1)

TransEurope (889206) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918703)

...that the only thing which counts is the 'Total Cost of Ownership'? Do I have to pay every installed node running Windows or every CPU? And how much do i have to pay for every registered copy of Windows and it's support service?

How fast can it be? (1)

Chainsaw (2302) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918729)

I mean, it can't accelerate with more than 9.82m/s, and the article doesn't say a word about the terminal velocity.

Re:How fast can it be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23919115)

You assume that only gravity affects the cluster. Give it time. Someone is bound to pick it up and apply force on it to accelerate it at more than 9.82m/s after Clippy shows up.

Re:How fast can it be? (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919143)

It can accelerate faster than that if you launch it into the sun, which is probably a good place for it. As I understand it, Microsoft is launching their next cluster into Sun, for no other reason than to annoy Jonathan Schwartz.

Okay... (2, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918847)

But the statistics for the top500.org show that over 9000 processors is way above normal for a supercomputer cluster up there. In fact less than 5% of machines in the entire 500 have more than 8000 processors, with the majority around the 1-4k mark. Oh, and 85% run Linux-only with an amazing 5 (not percent, actual projects) running Microsoft-only. So it looks like MS did this through hardware brute-force, not some amazing feat of programming. But then, that's true of them all. Although being in the top500 list is "good PR", it doesn't mean that much.

I wonder what the licensing is like for a 9000-processor Windows Server, though?

Re:Okay... (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919685)

It was 9000 cores. According to the summary, it was quad core chips so that would be about 2000+ chips. The top 500 lists by number of processors. I don't know if "processors" means chips or cores.

Re:Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23919859)

M$ tends to give 'projects' like these extensive discounts(as in free) on licensing. We were approached by M$ to implement a small test cluster about 1 year ago with all of the licensing fees waived. I suspect the same situation occurred.

"Windows HPC Cluster" (4, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918861)

Is this euphemism for "botnet"?

is this an ad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918935)

I did not know Microsoft was advertising on slashdot these days...

What is the benefit of Windows on a cluster? (2, Interesting)

idiot900 (166952) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919059)

Can someone explain why anyone could possibly want Windows on a scientific computing cluster? What does Windows offer that Linux doesn't?

Much of my work involves running molecular dynamics simulations. By HPC standards these are tiny calculations (in my case, usually 32 CPUs at a time). All science HPC software I'm aware of is Unix-oriented, and everything runs on Linux. At my institution we have an OS X cluster and we are in the process of purchasing a Linux cluster. We didn't even consider Windows - given the difficulties we've experienced administering Windows on the desktop, a Windows cluster just seems like an expensive exercise in frustration.

Re:What is the benefit of Windows on a cluster? (2, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919371)

Cost is another factor. I don't know how much volume discounts come into play but running 9000+ cores might cost a great deal if it wasn't built by MS themselves. Also they were able to tweak the OS code and kernel as they see fit. A Windows HPC customer may not have that flexibility.

Microsoft putting themselves ahead of everyone now (1)

WolfieAndSam (1313447) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919179)

Spammers must be just drueling for this to go into production environments. This improved speed will be great for viruses as well. MS is really starting to seperate themselves from the rest of the server quality OS's. Qudo's!!!

Costs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23919237)

So what are the costs on this sytem? My guess is that it is double what a similar speed Linux system is. And yeah, it would be interesting to see what uptimes/cpu is.

vista (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23919403)

but does it run Vista? :P

only 6 TB??? (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919549)

I bought an external WD hard drive for $200 that was 1 TB. Yay, it's fast, but it isn't going to be doing much with so little storage.

Microsoft not only catching up.. (1)

comm2k (961394) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919657)

but also dreaming that having to tinker with underlying code base will in the future not be needed anymore [1] and hence increase their share in the HPC market. Even if true - why pay loads of money if you can use Linux for free? [1] http://port25.technet.com/archive/2008/06/18/is-high-performance-computing-naturally-open-source-ie-for-tinkerers.aspx [technet.com]

A few things to know (1)

deadline (14171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919811)

First, the Top500 [top500.org] list has plenty of value. What most people do not realize (or should realize) is it is one data point on the HPC spectrum. If your HPC program does not perform the same or similar matrix operations as HPL [netlib.org] then the ranking is meaningless to you. To some the list has become a public relations contest.

Second, performance is virtually independent of the OS (unless you are using TCP). Most big clusters use InfiniBand and run applications in "user space" by-passing the kernel. The rest of the code is crunching numbers.

Third, for the right cost, anyone can get a system on the Top500 list. It is a rather simple price/performance calculation, by the way. Breaking into the top 10 might be a little more difficult.

Finally, HPC and Linux are synergistic. Take a look at Why Linux on Clusters? [clustermonkey.net] to get the full story. The Windows model does not work very well in this space.

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