Microsoft is developing a version of its Windows Server 2003 operating system that is designed to handle applications running across dozens of single- or dual-processor computers working in parallel.
The software, due in the 2H'05, represents a different approach to high-end computing than the company's currently available DataCenter edition of Windows.
DataCenter is designed for use on symmetric multiprocessing servers, where a single version of Windows can run on up to 64 processors. Microsoft's in-development high-performance computing (HPC) platform will split the workload across many smaller machines, each of which has its own imprint of Windows.
Microsoft plans to aim Windows Server 2003 HPC edition, at companies in life sciences, engineering, finance, and other industries where highly scalable systems built with relatively low-cost hardware are being applied to demanding applications. "Parallel-computing clusters are increasingly being seen in the enterprise," Microsoft product manager Dennis Oldroyd said. "It's been the domain of academia and research. Now, with low-cost standardised hardware, it's becoming less of a niche play."
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