Earlier today Bill Hilf blogged about Microsoft’s Technical Computing initiative and Bob Muglia sent an executive email on the topic. So what is the Technical Computing initiative? I think Bob captured it nicely by positing that recent world events have clearly demonstrated our inability to process vast amounts of information and variables. Two events in particular - the behaviour of global financial markets and the (ongoing) occurrence and impact of a volcano eruption in Iceland. I’ve been personally affected by both with my mortgage going down and almost missing a trip home for a wedding due to the volcano (my own wedding!).
The Technical Computing initiative seeks to bring vast computing power to the scientists and communities who are focused on these problems. It will focus on 3 areas as Bill called out in his blog:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
All 3 are important, big hairy computing issues we’re looking to solve and enable the great minds in computing to solve the really big, global scale challenges (and smaller ones of course) with the power of computing.
A supporting website was also launched today at www.modelingtheworld.com to discuss the trends, challenges and opportunities. There’s some funky new stuff there for Microsoft and in particular I like the social side of it at http://social.modelingtheworld.com/#/home – the team is also on Twitter with the handle @modelingtw