You are looking for very affordable hardware to build a (perhaps virtual) HPC cluster? You are looking for a test version of Windows Compute Cluster Server? Here's one way to get both.
Last week Microsoft ran an internal event for technical professionals at Microsoft. It is the internal TechEd event if you like and the sixth of its kind, therefore the name TechReady 6. Strictly internal and a Must for everyone directly involved with Microsoft technology.
Plenty of exciting sessions on HPC and Virtualization. One session I attended was delivered by Jeff Woolsey, Senior PM in the Virtualization team, Mister Hyper-V. During his talk he mentioned the ever falling price of hardware and how cheap quad core systems can be today. Many folks asked for the system spec and where to buy. Today he provided details:
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You can also purchase 4 2 GB DIMMS for this system for $150 (taking the system up to 8 GB total) and add two SATA 500 GB hard disks $99 each. Basically, about $1050 for an inexpensive Hyper-V system."
While he was thinking Hyper-V, I was thinking about CCS and cluster. The same system spec obviously would make a nice single system, 4-node virtual CCS cluster for testing. All you need is a trial version of CCS which you can download from Microsoft Connect and a trial of Windows Server 2008. Or, if you go to www.windowshpc.net and find a bunch of valuable resources like the LINPACK demo for CCS (with all code and stuff).
If you register as a contributing member on www.windowshpc.net, the Microsoft HPC community portal, you can have your own blog, share your thoughts, and interact directly with the product group.