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HP gets all clustered over Windows

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SC06 HP continues to think there's a big market out there for Windows clusters.

The company has backed up yesteryear's chatter by certifying the Windows Compute Cluster Server (CCS) 2003 operating system for its server cluster packages. In addition, HP has brought HP-MPI (message passing interface) to Windows CCS and added a new cluster management package to its arsenal. These moves come as HP gears up for the Supercomputing conference to be held mid-November in Tampa.

Chairman Bill hyped a beta version of Windows CCS at last year's Supercomputing show. Microsoft then delivered the OS around the middle of this year, and HP has finally certified it.

"It has been a bit of a journey," said Bruce Toal, a marketing director at HP.

Microsoft is well behind rival Linux makers in the high performance computing market. The likes of HP, IBM and Dell have been selling large Linux clusters for years, as have a host of specialists. Microsoft too would now like to have a crack at the wealthy HPC customers.

The Windows CCS clusters are, um, more humble than many of the Linux machines. HP, in the marketing material provided to us, managed to muster a 16 server system at Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute and an 18 server system at Boeing as examples of Microsoft's cluster prowess. Vendors of HP's magnitude typically choose to highlight Linux clusters made up of hundreds of servers.

Nonetheless, this Windows thing is rolling and has carried over to HP's flavor of MPI.

Customers may now rejoice at having a single binary for HP-MPI on both Linux and Windows, according to Toal. HP also has its MPI for HP-UX.

Customers can run Windows CSS on HP's CP3000 (Xeon) and CP4000 (Opteron) pre-packaged clusters. It does not run on the CP6000 (Itanium) systems.

And what of the CP5000? HP won't say.

Although, looking at what Sun and IBM have done with ClearSpeed, one could imagine HP rolling out some kind of accelerator-friendly cluster system as well.

Back on the Linux front, HP has started selling the Cluster Management Utility (CMU) software. This is more or less a base management package for installing OS copies on a cluster and making sure hardware is up and running. HP will sell it at $139 per node. ®

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