Cray adopts Microsoft for supercomputer line

High-end computing specialist says it will use Windows HPC Server in a line of products aimed at departments and universities.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read

Microsoft's entry into the supercomputing market took another step Tuesday as high-end system leader Cray announced plans for its first machine running the Windows HPC Server operating system.

Cray CX-1
The Cray CX-1 supercomputer. Cray

Cray announced the CX1 supercomputer, which will run HPC Server 2008 and have list prices between $25,000 and $60,000--prices which make it the company's most affordable system ever.

"Cray sees Microsoft Windows becoming an increasingly important force in the HPC market," Cray Senior VP Ian Miller said in a statement. "With the Cray CX1 high productivity system and Windows HPC Server 2008, we're bringing the power of Cray supercomputing to a much wider range of new users with an affordable and adaptable system that provides incredible value and is easy to install, program and use with a broad array of applications from independent software vendors."

Cray billed the CX1 as an expansion of its lineup, aimed at universities, laboratories, and departments within big businesses. It said that the machine will be "the world's highest-performing computer that uses standard office power."

Although trying to offer Microsoft-based systems at the low end and proprietary systems at the high end may make sense for Cray, it's also an option that can be fraught with peril.

Consider the fate of SGI (formerly Silicon Graphics), which tried a similar approach with its Virtual Workstation product line.

For Microsoft, it is yet another step in the company's bid to be taken more seriously at the highest end of the computing market. Its current product, Windows HPC Server 2008, is the successor to the company's inaugural effort, Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003.