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Supercomputers can do Windows

The supercomputing world publishes a list twice a year of the 500 most powerful supercomputers. Conveniently, it’s called the Top500 project. The list is part bragging rights (among vendors) and part trends tracking (among scholars). But without a doubt, the list represents the who’s who of supercomputing and high-performance computing. The 27th Edition was announced today at 2006 International Supercomputer conference in Dresden, Germany.

Coming in at #131 is a cluster system running Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003. The cluster, called Lincoln, is housed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois. The Lincoln cluster was benchmarked at 4.1 Tflops on 896 Intel Xeon (x64) processors, and using Dell PowerEdge 1855 blade servers, Cisco Topspin InfiniBand switches and Force10 Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) switches. A datasheet of the configuration will be published today.

While Linux is the OS for 70% of the Top500 systems, the goal of the Windows CCS team is to ensure that there’s one Windows-based cluster on the Top500 list each year. We’re not looking to win the race to petaflops. Because of the integration with existing tools and infrastructure, Windows CCS will be most appealing to organizations wanting workgroup, departmental and divisional HPC clusters. As one team members says, “it’s the democratization of HPC” … power to the people is another way to think of it. The Top500 list is an industry-accepted benchmark the Windows CCS team can use to demonstrate the headroom and scale of Windows CCS … and to keep the naysayers at bay (just kidding Greg).

You’ll be able to read more about NCSA’s Lincoln cluster and the Top500 result on PressPass.

Auf wiedersehen,

Patrick O’Rourke