Microsoft initiative invests in parallel computing

Microsoft‘s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Technical Computing initiative, announced Monday, will feature investments in parallel computing, technical computing in the cloud, and development of powerful technical computing tools and applications, company officials stressed.

Enablement of computer modeling will be a key element in the initiative, Microsoft officials said.”Our goal is to unleash the power of pervasive, accurate, real-time modeling to help people and organizations achieve their objectives and realize their potential. We are bringing together some of the brightest minds in the technical computing community across industry, academia, and science at to discuss trends, challenges, and shared opportunities,” said Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft’s server and tools business, in introducing the initiative in an executive email posted online.

The initiative builds on investments and inroads Microsoft has made in areas such as simplifying parallel programming, said S. Somasegar, senior president of the Microsoft developer division, in a blog posting. With parallel systems development, a developer must leverage the performance of multi-core and many-core hardware systems.

“Through the Technical Computing initiative, we will enable scientists, engineers, and analysts to more easily model the world at much greater fidelity,” Somasegar said. “The Technical Computing initiative will address a wide range of users. One of the most critical elements is to help developers create applications that can take advantage of parallelism on their desktop, in a cluster, and in public and private clouds.”

“Parallel programs are extremely difficult to write, test, and troubleshoot,” Muglia said. “However, a consistent model for parallel programming can help more developers unlock the tremendous power in today’s modern computers and enable a new generation of technical computing.”

Somasegar noted the Visual Studio 2010 IDE already contains technologies for parallel programming, including Parallel Patterns Library, user level tasks, a parallel debugger and profiler, and other tools.

Muglia also stressed goals of cloud and tools development as part of Microsoft’s Technical Computing initiative.

“Microsoft will play a leading role in bringing technical computing power to scientists, engineers, and analysts through the cloud,” Muglia said. “Existing high-performance computing users will benefit from the ability to augment their on-premises systems with cloud resources that enable ‘just-in-time’ processing. This platform will help ensure processing resources are available whenever they are needed — reliably, consistently, and quickly.”

Scientists, meanwhile, are pushing common tools such as spreadsheets to the limit with complex, data-intensive models, Muglia said.

“They need easy access to more computing power and simplified tools to increase the speed of their work. We are building a platform to do this. Our development efforts will yield new, easy-to-use tools and applications that automate data acquisition, modeling, simulation, visualization, workflow, and collaboration. This will allow them to spend more time on their work and less time wrestling with complicated technology,” Muglia said.

Microsoft anticipates the technical computing community could achieve breakthroughs such as better predictions to help understand global health trends, predictive global climate change models, and more accurate prediction of natural disasters, Muglia said.

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