Volume 3, Number 16 -- May 10, 2006

Microsoft Ships First Release Candidate for Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003

Published: May 10, 2006

by Alex Woodie

The first release candidate (RC) of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 is now available, according to Microsoft's Web site. The move marks an important--albeit late--step for Microsoft in delivering a version of Windows Server for the high performance computing (HPC) and supercomputing marketplace.

Originally slated for release in the first half of 2006, Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, like many operating systems in development in Redmond, has faced delays in the development phase. Microsoft shipped the first private beta in September, and the first public beta followed in November (see "HPC Version of Windows Server Goes to Public Beta").

Microsoft announced the availability of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 RC1 on its Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 home page. People have until July 1 to sign up to join the release candidate program to test the software, Microsoft says.

By the time Microsoft reaches the release candidate stage with a product, it is usually pretty close to its final form, although it can go through several RC cycles before Microsoft decides it's clean enough for widespread adoption.

While the top of the Top 500 Supercomputer list is still dominated by RISC machines, so-called standards-based machines running affordable X86 and X64 chips from Intel and AMD have made tremendous headway at the bottom of the list in recent years. Most of these clustered X86 and X64 supercomputer systems run Linux, which tells Microsoft it, too, can have a piece of this $7 billion market.

Microsoft's plan is to target workgroup (sub-$50,000) and departmental ($50,000-to-$250,000) segments of the HPC market, with focuses on manufacturing, geosciences, life sciences, oil and gas exploration, financial services, and public market sectors.

Chances are good Microsoft will make a formal announcement regarding Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 at the International Supercomputer Conference, which starts June 26 in Dresden, Germany. The next iteration of the Top 500 list will be released at that time, as well.

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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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