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Microsoft Rolls Out Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 Beta

Microsoft on Monday announced two product betas of note for high-performance (HPC) computing professionals.

Betas for Windows HPC Server 2008 R2, as well as Excel 2010, are now available, according to Microsoft's announcement. The announcement was timed for Supercomputing 2009, an event happening this week in Portland, Ore.

The server beta can be accessed here, but it requires sign-up through Microsoft Connect. Microsoft didn't clarify how to get the Excel 2010 beta.

Excel 2010 is part of the Office 2010 productivity suite. A technical trial version of Office 2010 was available to attendees of the 2009 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July. Others wanting to test Office 2010 have had access to the technical preview only through an invitation from Microsoft, or by signing up for a waiting list.

However a Microsoft TechNet forum support person -- known as "spain08MS" -- suggested in a Nov. 14 post that a public preview of Office 2010 will be available on "17-19 November." Presumably, that's when the beta of Excel 2010 will be available.

Microsoft is promising that Excel 2010 will accelerate workbooks and support "cluster-aware user-defined functions" for HPC applications. Users will be able "to run distributed Excel 2010 for the cluster," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft plans to release Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 for 64-bit machines only. The beta doesn't support Intel Itanium IA-64 infrastructure, according to a Microsoft Connect sign-up page. The R2 server will provide "out-of-the-box support" for "clusters up to 1,000 nodes," according to Microsoft's announcement. Microsoft added a few scalability and manageability improvements for this beta release, including "improved support for service-oriented architecture workloads," among other details.

Microsoft's hardware partners also made product announcements at Supercomputing 2009, or announced prior to the event. HP on Monday announced HP ProLiant G6 hardware and software products for HPC environments. Cray last week announced the launch of the Cray CX1-iWS system, which works with the Windows 7 operating system in conjunction with Windows HPC Server 2008. The Cray CX1-iWS product is being sold exclusively by Dell, starting at $40,000.

Microsoft's partner Wipro Technologies announced last week that it will help customers migrate to Windows HPC Server 2008. WiPro's services include management, application development and porting, and cluster deployment. In addition, WiPro will help those migrating their Linux-based applications to Windows HPC Server 2008.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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