Microsoft Aims Newest HPC Offering at Wall Street

By Dennis Barker

September 23, 2008

NEW YORK CITY — When profits drop, businesses look to boost productivity and performance — and nowhere is that demand more urgent right now than on Wall Street. Yesterday, about 60 blocks north of the scene of the recent financial meltdown, Microsoft announced it has released its latest product to provide that boost: Windows HPC Server 2008. The company says the new version will give firms in the financial services business a way to easily and cost-effectively deploy scalable high performance systems.

“Companies have to be more efficient than ever with IT resources, but they need to maintain their position in a competitive marketplace,” said Bill Laing, VP of Microsoft’s Windows Server and Solutions Division, during a speech at the HPC on Wall Street conference yesterday. Financial organizations are relying more and more on high performance systems for routine but critical operations such as real-time risk analysis, Laing said, but “they require HPC solutions that deploy quickly, integrate in a heterogeneous environment, and scale from workstation to cluster.”

Built on 64-bit Windows Server, the new platform essentially puts the Windows interface on top of high-speed compute clusters. “We’re providing supercomputing to the desktop guys, the financial analysts and the ones developing models — the guys doing real-time market calculations,” said Vince Mendillo, director of Microsoft’s Server & Tools Business Group, during a briefing. “Our goal is to accelerate the time to insight.”

Microsoft worked with dozens of companies in the financial industry to get their feedback to the server system, Laing said. One such company is Lloyds TSB, one of the largest banking groups in the UK. The IT director at Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets group in London, Ricky Higgins, reported that his team was able to stand up a new 64-node cluster in a very short time. “From bare hardware to first job submitted took barely overnight,” he said. “Due to market turmoil, we need to process data much more quickly than ever before.” Higgins said processing time has been cut by about 50 percent. “We’ve been able to greatly increase the number of transactions,” he said.

To speed up processing of financial workloads, Microsoft made a series of major changes to HPC Server. Instead of using Remote Installation Service to set up a cluster, HPC Server uses Windows Deployment Service, which the company says makes scaling much faster because it uses image multicasting to deploy nodes in parallel, but it’s also easier because a wizard system guides administrators through node configuration. A “to-do list” page walks the admin through the steps needed to configure a cluster, such as defining the network topology and setting up automatic deployment.

In fact, Microsoft lists simplified administration as one of the key benefits of the new platform. “Our goal was to provide efficient, scalable management tools for setting up and deploying a cluster. Reporting capabilities are very easy to use,” Mendillo said. Along with reporting, monitoring and diagnostic tools are all built into the new management console. A good example is the Heat Map, which gives an at-a-glance look at the health of the cluster.

Remote Direct Memory Access enables process-to-process communications, so “there’s very low latency when sending a process from one machine to another,” said Mendillo. Processes can write directly to the address space in another machine. The new job scheduler has been upgraded to work better with large clusters, handle more simultaneous chores, and be used in service-oriented applications, he said. The software now follows the Open Grid Forum’s HPC Basic Profile interface for interoperability with other schedulers.

Reliability is strengthened with advanced failover capabilities. “Redundancy on head nodes guarantees that the cluster will keep running, and job scheduler clients won’t see any change in the head node during the failover process,” explained Mendillo.

Microsoft has been working with independent software developers to build scalable applications for risk analysis, modeling trading, and other financial operations, as well as compilers, debuggers, performance optimizers, libraries, and other essential tools. Through integration with Visual Studio 2008, with its parallel programming environment, the new platform makes it easier to build software that takes advantage of distributed processing power, explained Medillo.

It’s not as if HPC is new in the financial district. Like Geno Valente, a VP for database analytics device developer XtremeData, said during a session yesterday, “Most people on Wall Street have some kind of HPC in the back room.”

But that system out back is often a Linux cluster. If Microsoft can’t replace that, it’ll work with it. “Interoperability with Linux systems, mixed cluster support, are essential,” Mendillo stated. “All the major file system vendors are supporting us, and our management package will allow administrators to manage Windows and Linux systems from a single console.”

Although its focus at this time of accelerated jitters is on the financial services segment, Microsoft is looking to bring high performance clusters to other industries with HPC Server. “We’re making high-end computing affordable, increasing productivity, and making it easier for companies to scale up to meet demand,” Laing said. “HPC Server will bring high performance to a much wider audience. It will eventually make it mainstream.”

You can download an evaluation copy at www.microsoft.com/hpc. Price of ownership is $475 per node.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

ESnet Now Moving More Than 1 Petabyte/wk

December 12, 2017

Optimizing ESnet (Energy Sciences Network), the world's fastest network for science, is an ongoing process. Recently a two-year collaboration by ESnet users – the Petascale DTN Project – achieved its ambitious goal t Read more…

HPC-as-a-Service Finds Toehold in Iceland

December 11, 2017

While high-demand workloads (e.g., bitcoin mining) can overheat data center cooling capabilities, at least one data center infrastructure provider has announced an HPC-as-a-service offering that features 100 percent fre Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be carefully woven together by people to create the computational c Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Explore the Origins of Space with COSMOS and Memory-Driven Computing

From the formation of black holes to the origins of space, data is the key to unlocking the secrets of the early universe. Read more…

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit and Sierra. The new AC922 server pairs two Power9 CPUs with f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be care Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft Spins Cycle Computing into Core Azure Product

December 5, 2017

Last August, cloud giant Microsoft acquired HPC cloud orchestration pioneer Cycle Computing. Since then the focus has been on integrating Cycle’s organization Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE In-Memory Platform Comes to COSMOS

November 30, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is on a mission to accelerate space research. In August, it sent the first commercial-off-the-shelf HPC system into space for testing Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC17 Cluster Competition: Who Won and Why? Results Analyzed and Over-Analyzed

November 28, 2017

Everyone by now knows that Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) took home the highest LINPACK Award and the Overall Championship from the recently concluded SC17 Student Cluster Competition. We also already know how the teams did in the Highest LINPACK and Highest HPCG competitions, with Nanyang grabbing bragging rights for both benchmarks. Read more…

By Dan Olds

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

SC Bids Farewell to Denver, Heads to Dallas for 30th Anniversary

November 17, 2017

After a jam-packed four-day expo and intensive six-day technical program, SC17 has wrapped up another successful event that brought together nearly 13,000 visit Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This