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Microsoft Technical Computing Initiative

An interesting announcement here from Microsoft about its new Technical Computing Initiative:


Lots of the usual PR-speak and vagueness, but from the post above here are the main points:

In terms of technology, the initiative will focus on three key areas:

  1. Technical computing to the cloud: Microsoft will help lead the way in giving scientists, engineers and analysts the computing power of the cloud.  We’re also working to give existing high-performance computing users 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. 
  2. Simplify parallel development: Today, computers are shipping with more processing power than ever, including multiple cores. But most modern software only uses a small amount of the available processing power. Parallel programs are extremely difficult to write, test, and troubleshoot.  We know that a consistent model for parallel programming can help more developers unlock the tremendous power in today’s computers and enable a new generation of technical computing. We’re focused on delivering new tools to automate and simplify writing software through parallel processing from the desktop… to the cluster… to the cloud.    
  3. Develop powerful new technical computing tools and applications: Scientists, engineers and analysts are pushing common tools (i.e., spreadsheets and databases) to the limits with complex, data-intensive models. They need easy access to more computing power using simpler tools to increase the speed of their work, and we’re building a platform with this objective in mind. We expect that these efforts will yield new, easy-to-use tools and applications that automate data acquisition, modeling, simulation, visualization, workflow and collaboration.

And from this article on the Wall Street Journal, here’s a practical example of what will be delivered:

Muglia offers an example of how Microsoft plans to make high-performance computing more accessible: Today many financial services firms use the company’s Excel spreadsheet application to develop financial models, but if the firms need the power of a supercomputer to crunch numbers, they often have to write specialized applications in programming languages like Fortran that a much smaller group of users are fluent in.

Microsoft’s Technical Computing group is working on software that will allow a program like Excel to run in parallel on thousands of machines so the application can be used to tackle monster financial computing chores on its own, Muglia says.

It’s been a while since there was any wild speculation on this blog but I can’t resist it – all this talk of running Excel in parallel on multiple machines and the cloud makes me wonder if this is going to work with PowerPivot too? Or rather, will this work with whatever PowerPivot/Vertipaq becomes when it grows up into a corporate BI tool?

2 thoughts on “Microsoft Technical Computing Initiative

  1. I see PP/Excel as just a first release for Vertipaq, which I guess will be appearing in many other (probably corporate) BI scenarios in MS products going forward. So the line between PP/Excel and SSAS will be blurred in future…

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