Imagine Cup, Microsoft’s global technology competition, had more than 300,000 student participants from 100 countries this year - and for the first time in its seven year history, the competition featured a challenge focused on parallelism. This is yet another sign that parallel computing is becoming increasingly mainstream, and the Imagine Cup proved to be an exciting vehicle for generating awareness about Microsoft’s parallel technologies.

Every year, Imagine Cup focuses on a theme that relates to finding solutions to real-world problems. This year students were asked to rise to the challenge: “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today” and to do so by aligning their projects with the Eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which range from halving extreme poverty and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education.

The Parallel Computing Platform team’s Parallelism Challenge challenged students to creatively use PCP’s parallel technologies to address some of these tough problems. More specifically, they were tasked with creating a parallel algorithm using PLINQ and/or the Task Parallel Library in order to develop a relevant and effective parallel solution. After reviewing several entries, PCP judges identified India’s Team Biollel as the winner of the 2009 Imagine Cup Parallel Computing Award. Team Biollel applied PCP’s parallel technologies to tracking the evolution of disease-causing viruses, which in turn helps expedite the process of creating life-saving drugs and vaccines. One Biollel member commented on his experience using PCP's technologies: "I must say that the simplicity with which TPL empowers a programmer to harness the underlying power of multi-core programming is amazing." Regarding his experience with the Imagine Cup he added: "Imagine Cup, as a competition is definitely a boon to all technology enthusiasts like us, as it not only challenges us to "imagine" a better world and work for it, but also to get recognition for our work."

Microsoft’s Parallel Computing Platform (PCP) team is developing technologies that will help make parallel computing easier for developers of all backgrounds through a solution-stack that consists of OS resource management, a concurrency runtime, programming models, language extensions, libraries and tools. For more information about PCP’s parallel technologies, visit: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/concurrency/default.aspx