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  • Blog Post: CentOS cluster in Azure - Part 1

    I have been working on Azure Resource Manager templates for a while. They are an interesting way to describe and deploy complex configurations in Azure. In particular, I have developed a template to deploy a CentOS 6.5 cluster. It will soon be published in the main Azure repository on github, but if...
  • Blog Post: How Many Cores for the Job?

    That is quite a common question. Experienced systems engineers have accumulated knowledge over the years that they distill into a few rules of thumb, e.g.: Given a certain hardware configuration, for software package A with an input size of X, on average you'll need Y cores. On Azure...
  • Blog Post: Generic Resource Scheduler for Azure

    GeReS (Generic Resource Scheduler) for Windows Azure is now available as a beta release on Codeplex . It is a simple batch job manager written in C# (or Python for the older version). Geres provides: Command line utilities (e.g. qsub, qlist, jobcancel, joblist) to queue tasks for computation...
  • Blog Post: HPC Server 2008 screencasts available

    I had promised that I would do a series of screencasts illustrating different aspects of HPC Server 2008. Well, here they are: http://edge.technet.com/tags/hpc. The first two on deployment and job submission have been posted. The rest will come soon. They correspond to the exercises described in...
  • Blog Post: Accelerating Excel by Parallelization

    Note that Excel 2007 is able to use multiple threads to parallelize calculations on the workstation. Previous versions were not. When you hit “recalculate”, Excel will identify independent areas in your spreadsheet and allocate computations in those to separate threads. There are as many calculation...
  • Blog Post: Upgrading to HPC Server 2008 RC1

    Well, there is no upgrade path, so the quickest way is to re-image. Download the RC build of the HPC software from connect.microsoft.com. If you have Infiniband cards, download the latest WinIB-ND drivers (1.4.0.2577) from http://www.mellanox.com.    1. Re-image the head node and install the latest HPC...
  • Blog Post: Webcasts Again!

    Hey all, I'm doing another series of webcasts. 2 of them have already been aired, two more will happen shortly. Here are the topics: - deployment and management - high availability - new scheduler features - hpc server 2008 and linux You'll find a link to register and summaries on: http://www.microsoft...
  • Blog Post: HPC "Jumpstart" in Washington DC

    We're organizing a 1-day introduction to Windows HPC Server 2008 in Washington, DC on March 18th 2008. This will be followed  by a 1-day "hpc clinic", where you'll have the opportunity to discuss your particular project with us. For more information and registration, please see http://www...
  • Blog Post: Windows HPC Server 2008 Training in Redmond

    The second workshop of the series is happening in Redmond on December 4th and 5th. The event is open to customers and partners with previous experience of HPC. It is meant as an introduction to our second foray into HPC land. There's plenty of new and improved material to keep you interested! You can...
  • Blog Post: Windows HPC Server 2008 Webcast

    Want to find out what's new in Windows HPC Server 2008 and what exactly is "High Productivity Computing"? Join usfor an exciting look into Windows HPC Server 2008. We’ll take you on a tour of this new version of Windows Compute Cluster Server, highlighting the major advancements in deployment, management...
  • Blog Post: Low Latency Links

    Low-latency links are important for message-passing (MPI) applications. Typically several instances of the same MPI process will run on different nodes and depend on data passed from other nodes to complete their computation. Latency is therefore one of the performance-limiting factors to be taken into...
  • Blog Post: Deploying Compute Cluster with WDS

    I found a good article by John McRae on deploying Compute Cluster with Windows Deployment Service here. Although we shipped WDS in Windows Server 2003 SP2 and we use in compute cluster pack SP1, we use it in legacy (RIS) mode. This article describes how to exploit full WDS for deployment. Image...
  • Blog Post: HPC Schedulers

    The scheduler is the core of a high-performance computing cluster: -           It allocates computing resources to the jobs that are submitted to the cluster. -           It maintains the status of those jobs to ensure orderly completion or termination. We provide a scheduler with the Compute Cluster...
  • Blog Post: Computing Utilities

    So, imagine this scenario: you have a rack full of servers that hum along at 20% of capacity, performing "mundane" tasks. Wouldn't it be nice to harness at least part of that remaining computing power for your batch calculations? Wouldn't it be nice to save some money by not having to expand that costly...
  • Blog Post: HPC in Action - Bioinformatics

    Ever played with the "game of life"? Well, here's an example of the real thing: HPC used to study evolution and cellular dynamics. Bioinformatics is an interesting - if unusual - field of application. Computation and visualization go hand in hand, as one is required to make sense of the other. In this...
  • Blog Post: UK HPC User Group Meeting

    The UK HPC user group is meeting in London on June 26th, for what promises to be an interesting day at the Imperial War Museum. This meeting is intended for customers, partners and developers to “meet and mingle”, compare notes and provide Microsoft with direct input into our product and offerings. ...
  • Blog Post: 4x4 and other quick tips

    I've recently been involved in a simple benchmarking exercise. Here are a few quick "rules of thumb" that have helped me: - 4x4 A PCIe 4x slot is supposed to have 4 lanes capable of 250 MB/s each, for a total of 1 GB/s. An Infiniband SDR 4x card has 4 channels clocked at 2.5Gb/s, so a simple rule of...
  • Blog Post: HPC & Movies

    In my last post I investigated how HPC can be used to build UFOs. This time, I've learned to my surprise that HPC can be used to make movies! Digital media production follows a complex workflow, from initial sketch to wireframe model, to rendered 3D images, to movies. HPC is typically used in rendering...
  • Blog Post: Upgrading from an evaluation version

    I have received a few questions about upgrades from the evaluation version that you can download from microsoft.com/hpc to a full version. The good news is that the evaluation version is fully functional, so you won't need a complete re-installation. The only thing you need to do is obtain a full licence...
  • Blog Post: Teched session on HPC in top 20!

    Phil Pennington and I presented a session on cluster performance optimization at Teched 2008 in Orlando. It made it in the top 20 list by customer satisfaction!!! To all those who were there and voted for us: Thank you!!! To all those who were not there but would still like to know about it: leave...
  • Blog Post: Interested in HPC? How about UFOs?

    To many people HPC is like UFOs: We there's somebody somewhere, but we don't really know what they're doing and where they fit in the grand scheme of things. Here's my attempt at explaining them (UFOs AND HPC). Happy reading . If you think I've smoked one too many - please leave a comment. Equally...
  • Blog Post: Compute Cluster Server v2 Training in Munich

    We are kicking off our Compute Cluster v2 training in Munich, Germany, on November 19th-20th. The event is open to European partners and customers with previous experience of HPC. We will concentrate on CCS v2 features and provide hands-on labs on those that are available in the current pre-release software...
  • Blog Post: Mellanox Infiniband on HPC Server 2008

    One would assume that Infiniband on Windows is just going to be as easy as any other plug and play device installation. Well, in some cases it is. When you have some old cards and an old switch, no documentation, both not supported any longer and in an unknown state, it may not be! I am sure this experience...
  • Blog Post: High Performance Computing at Microsoft?

    So, you have the latest multi-core, multi GHz, multi-processor, multi-everything laptop. That is a high-performance computer, right? Well, almost: High Performance Computing is a branch of computer science that studies systems designs and programming techniques to extract the best computational performance...
  • Blog Post: Faking Networks

    On a Windows HPC Server 2008 head node, that is... 1. No Infiniband on the head node In many cases people want to save themselves some money by not installing an Infiniband adapter on the head node, thereby also sparing a port on that expensive infiniband switch. It makes a lot of sense, especially...