Microsoft Corp. Monday announced the “immediate availability” of Windows HPC Server 2008 R2, a high-performance server designed to help securities firms simulate conditions in financial markets and speed up execution of complex trading strategies.

The release is part of Microsoft’s Technical Computing Initiative, described in detail Monday at the High Performance Computing Financial Markets Conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Bill Hilf, general manager of the Microsoft Technical Computing Group, made the announcement in his keynote presentation at the conference.

This third version of Microsoft’s HPC Server works with 1,000 computing nodes “out of the box,’’ said Hilf, and can be used, in scale, to connect thousands of nodes, aka computing devices of all types. The servers also can slip into existing enterprise computing networks, without forcing changes to the configuration of existing servers, he said.

“We spent a lot of time and energy making that happen,’’ he told attendees of the conference.

Hilf also showed how the Technical Computing Initiative uses simple invocations of parallel programming to speed up execution of tasks, and will let companies access unused desktop computers as well as excess capacity in its Azure “cloud” of computing “instances” as well.

The execution of 1,000 economic scenarios over 100 years on 500 insurance policies for a consultancy called Milliman was shown on stage to be speeded up from two days to four minutes, on stage.

Adding unused desktop cycles sped up the process another 20 percent.

The cloud, in addition, can be used to execute a “big pile of work,’’ while a user moves on to other tasks on his or her own machine. The user now, because of the initiative, gets a notice in his or her inbox when the job is completed.

The server works with Microsoft IT infrastructure such as Active Directory, SharePoint Server, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Office. Microsoft claims the new server is is 32 percent to 51 percent less expensive thanequivalent Linux-based HPC systems over five years.

This article can also be found at SecuritiesTechnologyMonitor.com.

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