Haven't posted in a while - been snowed under learning about an exciting new addition which is coming to the Windows Server family. Later this year (subject to the usual Microsoft caveats abou release dates ;-)) we will be releasing Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition. This new addition is designed to allow you to create a cluster of nodes which work together to perform complex computing tasks.
When I first heard about this, my first thought was that we were going up againt Cray:-) but that isn't necessarily the case. In 1991, a Cray Y-MP C16 had ~10Gflops computing power and cost $40,000,000. By 1998, you could get that same 10 Gflops in 24 333MHz Ultrasparc II 24GB SBus machines. And you'd only need a tidy little $1,000,000. You'd only have to have scrimped and saved for 1/40th of what you needed for the Cray.
Nowadays, you can get that same 10 Gflops performance in 4 2.2GHz Athlon 64s with 4GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet and Windows Server 2003 SP1. That'll cost you aound $4000, 1/250th of what the Cray would have cost. So for under $5000 you can get the same computig power that fifteen years ago you needed a Cray for. Once you start to see the type of power which most businesses actually have available to them it all starts to make sense that they harness that in a way to let them potentially use these resources in parallel. Many of the difficulties around High Performance Computing stem from HPC solutions usually being bespoke solutions, very difficult to set up and configure, difficult to add additional nodes, and extremely difficult to monitor and maintin.
So with Wndows Server 2003 CCE, we're bringing the ease of use of Windows, the monitoring capabilities and the automated deployment capabilities of RIS to HPC and potentially moving it to be something which can be deployed on a departmental basis, with a small number of nodes.
Anyway, that's just an intro to he product to let you know what's coming. It's starting to take over my life, so expect some updates coming in the near future. I'll leave you with the marketing tagline, which is a pretty good summary - "Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 - HPC goes mainstream".
Bye for now....