Microsoft execs haven't been beating the parallel-computing drum as loudly as they were a year or two ago, but that doesn't mean nothing is happening in this space.
Late last month, Microsoft made available for download a new version of the HPC (High Performance Computing) Toolpack, which is a collection of utilities that can be used on Windows Server 2008 R2-based clusters. The latest tool pack includes two tools, one known as "Lizard," and the other as "ClusterCopy." Lizard, the Linpack Performance Wizard, calculates peak performance of HPC clusters in billions of floating-point operations per second (GFLOPS) and allows users to save those results and the parameters that helped achieved them. ClusterCopy is a tool for distributing files around a cluster using a tree-based copy system.
As I noted in a previous blog post, Microsoft is gearing up to make some more noise in the HPC space this fall, when the company is expected to release a first Community Technology Preview (CTP) of its Dryad parallel/distributed computing infrastructure technology. A final commercial version of Dryad is due out some time in 2011. Dryad has been a Microsoft Research project, but is in the process of being commercialized, according to a Microsoft presentation I saw.
"Lizard and ClusterCopy have no direct relationship to Dryad today," a Microsoft spokesperson said when I asked if there was any connection between the products. "Microsoft periodically releases additional tools for HPC that they developed out of band (between formal releases/updates) of the product. These provide additional value to our customers, at no additional cost, through online tool packs."
In other parallel/distributed computing news this week, Intel rolled out an updated version of its Parallel Studio tool suite for Windows developers. The new Intel Parallel Studio 2011 is designed to help developers increase the performance and reliability of both serial and parallel applications running on multicore processors. The new Studio 2011 adds a set of parallel models, known as Parallel Building Blocks, as well as a new threading assistant, known as Parallel Advisor. The new Intel suite supports Visual Studio 2010.
Intel has been working with Microsoft on adding and improving support for parallel/multicore systems.
Microsoft's recently formed Technical Computing Group is the part of the company that has the charter these days for parallel, technical and high-performance computing.