One of the HPC-related features coming in Visual Studio 2010 is .Net Parallel Extensions, which is designed to exempt developers from having to have specialized knowledge to write parallel code. Also included for transitioning to parallel code are Task Parallel Library, Parallel LINQ, and Coordination Data Structures for managed code.
Microsoft also released a preview last month of its F# language, which is a specialty language that will help developers to easily write parallel code.
Microsoft has added an SOA broker to HPC Server 2008 to aid in running cluster-enabled applications and the vendors has doubled in the past year the number of ISVs committed to its HPC platform.
With the release of HPC Server 2008 a few weeks ago, Microsoft also offered an academic version priced at $15 per node to generate interest. By comparison, a commercial license runs $450 per node.
Microsoft also recently unveiled a hardware-software partnership with Cray on the CX1 "personal" supercomputer aimed at financial services, aerospace, automotive, academia, and life sciences priced at $25,000.
Microsoft also has plans to include IT in the equation. The company integrated its System Center tools for application-level monitoring and rapid provisioning by releasing on Oct. 29 the HPC Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager.
"The big discussion here is around productivity," says Vince Mendillo, director of the HPC division at Microsoft. "It's not an OS play. We are bringing to bear all the technology to take productivity up a notch for information workers, scientists, financial analysts, and others."
Microsoft is betting users such as engineers will combine workflows running on their Windows workstations with Windows-based back-end HPC clusters, or move those workloads off the desktop altogether and into an HPC infrastructure.
Microsoft also envisions such desktop/back-end combinations as Excel users performing a function call from their desktop that in the background executes an agent that runs some computational algorithms on a networked HPC cluster and returns an answer. The user would have no concept of the back end tied to Excel, which is widely used in financial services.
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