Announcing the Windows Azure HPC Scheduler and HPC Pack 2008 R2 Service Pack 3 releases!

Once again I get the honor of announcing, on behalf of the Microsoft High Performance Computing team, our latest releases are available immediately!

  • Our new Windows Azure HPC Scheduler development kit, and
  • the third update to the HPC Pack 2008 R2 family of software


Windows Azure HPC Scheduler

This is a great new product for us, the preview version was previously announced at the BUILD conference, and now we have officially released it for application developers to start using right now!

Windows Azure HPC Scheduler SDK includes modules and features that developers can use to create Windows Azure deployments that support compute-intensive, parallel applications that can scale when offered more compute power. The Windows Azure HPC Scheduler SDK enables developers to define a Windows Azure deployment that includes built-in job scheduling and resource management, runtime support for MPI, SOA, web-based job submission interfaces, and persistent state management of job queue and resource configuration. So, basically you can create an application that builds an app-specific cluster with no on-premises cluster requirements - this is cool :) Of course, applications that have been built using the HPC Pack's on-premises job submission API can use very similar job submission interfaces in the Windows Azure HPC Scheduler.

Get more details, and links to docs and sample code, from our Windows Azure HPC Scheduler MSDN page.

The Windows Azure HPC Scheduler SDK works with the newest version of the Windows Azure SDK (November 2011) which includes its own cool set of features to help develop Windows Azure applications, available for installation through the Web Platform installer here.


HPC Pack 2008 R2 Service Pack 3

This update includes a number of improvements, including two frequently requested features: 

  • The Windows Azure bursting scenarios has reduced the number of ports you have to open in your firewall, using port 443 for most communication
  • The ability to install the HPC Pack software on a server not dedicated to your cluster (e.g. a team file server) for use in a manner similar to the existing Workstation Node functionality
    • The new 'Cycle Harvesting' feature is available to anyone who has a license for the Workstation or Enterprise versions - you'll need to download the update from your VL download page or by using the SP3 Integration Pack + your original Workstation or Enterprise media to create the new installer.

As part of this release we’ve also updated the preview version of LINQ to HPC, however, this will be the final preview and we do not plan to move forward with a production release.  In line with our announcement in October at the PASS conference we will focus our effort on bringing Apache Hadoop to both Windows Server and Windows Azure.  Hadoop has emerged as a great platform for analyzing unstructured data or large volumes of data at low cost, which aligns well with Microsoft’s vision for its Information Platform.  It also has a vibrant community of users and developers eager to innovate on this platform.  Microsoft is keen to not only contribute to this vibrant community, but also help its adoption in the Enterprise.  We expect a preview version on Windows Azure available by end of the calendar year.

For more information on those, and other, new features available in Service Pack 3 please see our documentation on TechNet.

Note: The single SP3 installer applies to all installations - Express, Workstation, and Enterprise, as well as the standalone 'Client Utilities' and 'MS-MPI' packages. You can download it from the Microsoft Download Center. Installers for the standalone Client Utilities and MS-MPI packages with the service pack already integrated are also available.

If you do not have an HPC Pack 2008 R2 cluster, you can download a free Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 Suite evaluation version. Before you install, you can try out the new Installation Preparation Wizard which can help analyze your environment for common issues and provide some best practice guidance to help ensure an easy HPC cluster setup. 

Head over to the Windows HPC Discussion forums if you have any questions or comments, we'll be happy to hear from you!