Microsoft shows prominently at Supercomputing '05

Microsoft enters HPC fray, with a splashy booth and beta release of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003

Microsoft's presence at Supercomputing '05 in Seattle last week was unmistakable. The conference, which spotlights innovations in HPC (high-performance computing), featured more than 200 exhibitors, including HPC stalwarts such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, SGI, and Sun Microsystems. Despite the fact that Microsoft is not really associated with supercomputing, the company seemed bent on keeping a high profile at SC05: Microsoft was a major sponsor of the show, and Bill Gates was a keynote speaker. Also, Microsoft's booth was easily the largest on the floor, holding down the prime real estate at the middle of the show, requiring all attendees to pass through it as they wended their way between exhibit halls.

The main thrust of Microsoft's efforts at SC05 was for Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, which is still in beta. Show attendees could grab a free time-bomb demo copy of Windows CCS Beta 2. Aside from that, the booth consisted of other vendors showing off various products loosely tied to clustering, running on some Windows variant.

Microsoft didn't seem so interested in talking to the press, and all that was readily available was a handout showcasing Microsoft's one day of workshops to be held at the show -- a handout that somehow got the name of the show wrong, dubbing it "Supercomputer '05."

Microsoft's CCS is aimed at those who feel they need the raw horsepower of clustering but want to stay on the Windows platform. Historically Windows has been a very tough sell in the HPC market, so it's safe to say that the established HPC software vendors don't have too much to worry about from Microsoft -- yet.