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Today at the Supercomputing (SC) 2010 conference, Microsoft Corp. announced the release of NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure. The new application enables a broader community of scientists to combine desktop resources with the power of cloud computing for critical biological research. At the conference, Microsoft showcased the enormous scale of the application on Windows Azure, demonstrating its use for 100 billion comparisons of protein sequences in a database managed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
Researchers in bioinformatics, energy, drug research and many other fields use the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) to sift through large databases, to help identify new animal species, improve drug effectiveness and produce biofuels, and for other purposes. NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure provides a user-friendly Web interface and access to Windows Azure cloud computing for very large BLAST computations, as well as smaller-scale operations. The application will allow scientists to use and collaborate with their private data collections, as well as data hosted on Windows Azure, including NCBI public protein data collections and the results of Microsoft’s large protein comparison.
NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure software is available from Microsoft at no cost, and Windows Azure resources are available at no charge to many researchers through Microsoft’s Global Cloud Research Engagement Initiative. More information is available at http://research.microsoft.com/azure.
At SC 2010 Microsoft also announced that by the end of the year it will release Service Pack 1 for Windows HPC Server 2008 R2, allowing customers to connect their on-premises high-performance computing systems to Windows Azure. This capability provides customers with on-demand scale and capacity for high-performance computing applications, lowering IT costs and speeding discovery.
In addition, Microsoft announced that Windows HPC Server has surpassed a petaflop of performance, a degree of scale achieved by fewer than a dozen supercomputers worldwide. The Tokyo Institute of Technology has verified that its Tsubame 2.0 supercomputer running on Windows HPC Server has exceeded the ability to execute a quadrillion mathematical computations per second. The achievement demonstrates that Windows HPC Server can provide world-class high-performance computing on cost-effective software accessible to a wide range of organizations.
Bruce D. Kyle ISV Architect Evangelist | Microsoft Corporation