Earl Dodd, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Supercomputing Centers in Montana, says that familiarity with Microsoft products is a big selling point for customers just getting started in high-performance computing.
RMSC provides remote access to supercomputing capacity, and the new version of Windows HPC Server "is a critical piece of our strategy to go out to the small and medium-sized businesses," Dodd says.
RMSC works with both Linux and Windows-based clusters, but for small customers "we must begin where they are, and that is almost exclusively on a Windows environment," he says.
Integration with Excel is one of the most important features in Microsoft's Release 2, Dodd says. One RMSC customer that manages carbon credits for terrestrial sequestration needs to perform calculations on "something like 30 million rows" in Excel, according to Dodd.
"You couldn't load this thing in a workstation. Before R2 it just couldn't be done," Dodd says.
Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 was first released in beta in November 2009 and then a second beta was made available for download in April. About 130 users tested out the software, Waite says. With the software now in general availability, it will cost $475 per server for an express version and $925 per server for an enterprise version. The enterprise version includes Excel integration and the ability to harness spare processor cycles on Windows 7 desktops.
Forty Microsoft partners announced support for the Windows HPC platform in conjunction with Microsoft's announcement Monday. These announcements included a "personal supercomputer" offered by SGI and a desktop supercomputer built by Cray.
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