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Microsoft brings Numa to Windows

Microsoft has embarked on an effort to let Windows server customers take advantage of the increased multi-processor capabilities of Intel's Xeon MP chips.

Microsoft will introduce non-uniform memory access (Numa) technology to future versions of its Windows server operating systems, .Net Enterprise Server, and .Net Datacenter.

Available for years in high-end Unix servers running SMP (symmetric multi-processor) configurations as large as 32-way, Numa technology allows for faster communication between distributed memory in a multi-processor server.

Microsoft's motivation in bringing Numa to Windows stems from the recent release of Intel's Xeon MP (multi-processor) server chips, which can scale to as many as 16-way SMP configurations.

As vendors such as Intel, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard begin introducing servers based on Xeon MP that run more than eight-way processor configurations, Numa technology will be there as an option for users looking for stable computing platforms on such high-end server systems.

IBM's recently introduced x440 server represents the beginning of the arrival of Xeon MP-based servers. The x440 scales up to a 16-way system, according to IBM.

The move to embrace Numa in Windows server operating systems also sets Microsoft on a course to compete better with high-end Unix servers from IBM and Sun's Solaris, which is a Unix OS variant.

Numa will become only one of many options for Windows server customers looking to scale beyond 8-way servers.

For example, Microsoft also supports SMP server company Unisys, which makes a 32-way SMP server that already runs the Windows Server OS.

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