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Microsoft aims for super computing

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates forecasted on Tuesday the merging of the world's most powerful super computer with the Windows operating system.

Addressing the Super-Computing 2005 Conference in Seattle, Gates said he believes that as chips reach gigahertz speed limits, the need for "parallelism" becomes more important.

"Its exciting to think that we can get the best brains from super-computing and from mass computing and bring those together and make great progress in the decade ahead," he said.

He also sketched out an environment in which desktop supercomputers are linked to more powerful clusters, and a super-computing system will cost less than 10,000 US dollars.

"Microsoft wants to play a role here, to be a participant and work with partners to see how our software fits in these solutions, " he said.

"These solutions will often be extremely heterogeneous," he said, adding that making certain all these systems work together "is just one element on how software can do a better job."

The Microsoft chairman also said his company is reaching out to more super-computing centers to understand "what should we be doing with our software, how can it connect up to the other software that they have in a better way?"

By now, Microsoft's Windows has barely won a stand in high-end computing. It is not mentioned at all on the latest world's Top500 super-computing list released this week.

But experts predicted that clusters of cheap computers with the Windows operating system are almost inevitable in many respects.

The notion of "mass computing" is pretty evident especially as researchers turn to low-cost commodity clusters to solve problems, according to William Kramer, general chairman of the super-computing conference.

Kramer, head of high-performance computing at the US Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, said Gates' appearance is an indication of the growing awareness of super-computing's importance.

"The output of (high-performance computing) activities are no longer hidden behind a curtain, if you will," he said. " Super-computing is being scaled down so more people can make use of these very complicated tools, and I think that's one of the indications of Microsoft's interest here."


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