On the state of Microsoft’s HPC effort

Reports were in that a Windows based system was able to crack the 1PF barrier, but that the same system running Linux, was faster.

Cudos to Microsoft for this … but I have to ask … really … if this statement from Bill Hilf is true:

“We’re not trying to beat Linux,” Hilf says. “We’re not trying to be a supercomputing company. We’re trying to say ‘how do we mainstream all of this stuff so that HPC becomes broadly available at all levels.'”

then why is Microsoft competing in the stratospheric regime of performance if its not trying to be there?

I see a fundamental disconnect between actions and words. You can ignore words, not actions. Microsoft is looking for a perceived win against Linux that it can take to marketing. This is of little real value to them, and I hope they recognize this soon.

The reality of the cloud and cycles upon demand models, which I believe will come to dominate HPC in the near future for everything not desktop based, is that the OS will be an incidental implementation detail. The lowest cost OS is going to win the majority of the use cases (as it is now). Economics again, pure and simple.

So its actually in Microsoft’s best interests to figure out a) how to give away their OS for nearly free for HPC sites, and b) how to run it diskless/iSCSI based via PXE booting/installing, and make it as trivial to install and operate as Linux is. This is IMO far more important than climbing the top500 list. If they don’t the risk being in the same state they find themselves in the cellphone/PDA/smartphone market.

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