Many people are still wondering exactly what Windows HPC Server 2008 is.  On the launch day of the Windows HPC Server 2008.  I promise this is the only blog you'll need to read if you are new to the product.

In one line:

MSMPI + Scheduler + WCF broker + Windows productivity story = HPC++  (Windows HPCS 2008)

 

In a few short paragraphs:

High performance computing goes back to the CRAY days.  Mostly used for R&D, to solve large [time (cpu) /space(memory)]  complexity problems such as simulating a physical system.  These problems include nano-simulation, medical, surface flow, computational fluid dynamics, fusion, mechanical systems, and more.  Some of the well known commercial applications include ANSYS’ FLUENT, Schlumberger’s ECLIPSE, Simulia’s ABAQUS.  All of these tools use MPI or message passing library, it’s an industrial standard that’s available on Unix, Linux, Cray, and now Windows.  MS MPI stack is based on Argonne National Lab’s Mpich2 implementation, with the additional benefits of Network Direct, or fast direct hardware access bypassing kernel stack.  MPI requires fast hardware interconnect such as infini-band network cards to achieve 20GB/s in bandwidth, and 2 microsecond in latency.  By implementing network direct, we can now compete head to head with Linux/UNIX products.  Our product team did a top 500 run lately, and achieved #23 on the world’s top 500 fastest computer list.   

Super computers running MPI based programs are often batch oriented, you and 100s of other users submit a job based on resources you need such as disk/memory, number of nodes, and even software licenses.  Windows HPC Server 2008's job scheduler and other IT PRO features efficiently scale to thousands of processing cores and provides a comprehensive set of deployment, administration, and monitoring tools that are easy to deploy, manage, and integrate with your existing infrastructure.

V2 or HPCS 2008 has one additional feature called WCF broker.  It is essentially a proxy system for a farm of on-demand web services.  This programming model is useful for short jobs that are embarrassingly parallel.  The nice thing about web service is that things are loaded in memory, so the roundtrip of start to finish of a calculation is fast.  WCF model does the growth/shrink management on the number of instances of web services you run on your cluster.   Some examples including farming out mortgage asset calculations on your spreadsheet to the web services farm.

My blogs ends with the note that CRAY just released its CX1 mini supercomputer with Windows HPC Server 2008.  With the advanced programming productivity suite, no computational scientist should be left behind.