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Gartner Bullish on NUMA in Windows .NET Server

NUMA has appeared on Microsoft roadmaps for technologies it would include in high-end versions of its Whistler server release for several years.

The topic picked up steam a few weeks ago at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) when Microsoft specified that it would support NUMA technologies in Windows .NET Server, the formal name for the Whistler server family.

A research note published this week by the market research and consulting organization Gartner indicates analysts there believe the engineering work in Redmond will make Non-Uniform Memory Access technology easier to use. NUMA is a different architecture for organizing large systems than SMP, the vastly more common approach among Intel-based systems.

"When .NET Server arrives during 2H02, enterprises should re-evaluate using NUMA technology on Intel servers," writes Gartner analyst John Enck. "Microsoft's improvements will enable NUMA to work better than it has in older Intel-based NUMA systems produced by vendors such as Sequent Computer Systems and Data General."

According to Gartner, much of the NUMA-related work in Windows .NET Server comes from working with IBM for IBM's Enterprise X-Architecture server line. IBM bought Sequent, and the new IBM servers use high-speed interconnects to link brick-based systems into logical servers of up to 16 processors. The 16-way systems won't be available until summer, according to the latest public statements from IBM.

Gartner says Microsoft's support of NUMA acknowledges that a segment of the Intel server market requires NUMA technology and cannot be satisfied with industry-standard Intel architecture.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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