As the recent news about Microsoft have not yet sublimed and it’s again making big news in its surprising bid to join the petascale computing age. It seem as to be that Windows HP Server was able to hit petaflop (1 petaflop is equal to 1,000 trillion calculations per sec ) speeds on Japans largest supercomputer but was not recognized until the bi-annual Top 500 list because Linux performed better on the same machine.
It was Tsubame 2.0, the HPC cluster at the Tokyo Institute of Technology who tested the machine’s speed with both Windows and Linux, with Linux performing far better than Microsoft as Linux was run on a slightly large number of nodes.
The main reason for this backlogging was that a software bug prevented the Windows HPC Server from matching Linux’s speed and the ability to run across more nodes. The bug was not present in Windows HPC Server but in a software package Microsoft had designed to run the top 500 benchmarking test.
The professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Mr. Satoshi Matsuoka has commented in SC10 supercomputing conference in New Orleans that the victory of Linux was purely by chance. In the competition what happened was that to submit scores of the Top 500 supercomputers list, the cluster operators have to run the Linpack Benchmark, a software library that is designed to test a cluster’s speed under extreme conditions.
The Linux run was performed over 1,357 nodes, achieving a speed of 1.192 petaflops. This speed only gave Tsubame the title of the world’s fourth largest fastest supercomputers. Only in small workloads Windows was performing better than Linux and was able to hit only 1.118 petaflops with 1,300 nodes. But when Windows tried to run across 1,360 nodes, the Linpack software designed for the Windows run failed due to a memory initialization bug.
A small bug that did not allowed Microsoft to complete their final run and Tsubame ran out of time and when they used their second best number it turned out to be slightly lower than Linux. Since the hardware used by Microsoft and Tsubame was the same it is either the operating system or the differences between the customized Linpack software packages.
As Tsubame has a remarkable energy the general-purpose of supercomputer with about 2,000 is used in academic and industry research circles. It’s a hard reality that most people in the supercomputing crowd might scoff at Windows, which accounts for only five of the Top 500 HPC clusters. But it should not be sidelined that Microsoft has helped to fund the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s supercomputing programs.