Microsoft Brings Bioscience “BLAST” to the Windows Azure Cloud
Nov. 16, 2010
Announcements at Supercomputing 2010 conference highlight Microsoft’s efforts to bring technical computing to the mainstream.

NEW ORLEANS — Nov. 16, 2010 — Today at the Supercomputing (SC) 2010 conference, Microsoft Corp. announced the release of NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure. The new application enables a broader community of scientists to combine desktop resources with the power of cloud computing for critical biological research. At the conference, Microsoft showcased the enormous scale of the application on Windows Azure, demonstrating its use for 100 billion comparisons of protein sequences in a database managed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

“NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure gives all research organizations the same computing resources that traditionally only the largest labs have been able to afford,” said Bob Muglia, president, Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. “It shows how Windows Azure provides the genuine platform-as-a-service capabilities that technical computing applications need to extract insights from massive data, in order to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges across science, business and government.”

Democratizing and Accelerating Research With NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure

Researchers in bioinformatics, energy, drug research and many other fields use the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) to sift through large databases, to help identify new animal species, improve drug effectiveness and produce biofuels, and for other purposes. NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure provides a user-friendly Web interface and access to Windows Azure cloud computing for very large BLAST computations, as well as smaller-scale operations. The application will allow scientists to use and collaborate with their private data collections, as well as data hosted on Windows Azure, including NCBI public protein data collections and the results of Microsoft’s large protein comparison.

The NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure software is available from Microsoft at no cost, and Windows Azure resources are available at no charge to many researchers through Microsoft’s Global Cloud Research Engagement Initiative. More information is available at http://research.microsoft.com/azure.

Windows HPC Server Extends to the Cloud and Breaks the Petaflop Barrier

At SC 2010 Microsoft also announced that by the end of the year it will release Service Pack 1 for Windows HPC Server 2008 R2, allowing customers to connect their on-premises high-performance computing systems to Windows Azure. This capability provides customers with on-demand scale and capacity for high-performance computing applications, lowering IT costs and speeding discovery.

In addition, Microsoft announced that Windows HPC Server has surpassed a petaflop of performance, a degree of scale achieved by fewer than a dozen supercomputers worldwide. The Tokyo Institute of Technology has verified that its Tsubame 2.0 supercomputer running on Windows HPC Server has exceeded the ability to execute a quadrillion mathematical computations per second. The achievement demonstrates that Windows HPC Server can provide world-class high-performance computing on cost-effective software accessible to a wide range of organizations.

“We saw outstanding performance from Windows HPC Server during our Linpack benchmarking run on Tsubame 2.0,” said Satoshi Matsuoka, professor at the Global Scientific Information and Computing Center, Tokyo Tech. “It broke the petaflop barrier and was on par with Linux at this scale. Moreover, in power-optimized configuration, it recorded over a gigaflop/watt — nearly three times more power efficient than an average laptop. We were very excited to see this level of performance, given Windows applications will be an important part of our work with our nearly 50 industry partners.”

More details on these announcements are available at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/default.mspx.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.

Read More: