jules - Fotolia

Microsoft to offer Cray supercomputing on Azure

Both Microsoft and Amazon are building up their HPC capabilities. The partnership with Cray could help to bolster Azure’s footprint

Microsoft has linked up with Cray to offer supercomputing on Azure. The pair said the strategic alliance would give enterprises the tools to enable a new era of discovery and insight, while broadening the availability of supercomputing to new markets and new customers.

Under the partnership, Microsoft and Cray said they would jointly engage with customers to offer dedicated Cray supercomputing systems in Microsoft Azure datacentres to enable customers to run artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, and modelling and simulation workloads at scale, seamlessly connected to the Azure cloud.

Writing on the Microsoft blog, Jason Zander, corporate vice-president of the Microsoft Azure team, said: “The Cray systems easily integrate with Azure virtual machines, Azure data lake storage, the Microsoft AI platform, and Azure machine learning services for rich workflows and collaboration. All of this is provided in the cloud with the most datacentres worldwide, the most compliance certifications, and dedicated regions for government agencies and their partners.”

Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray, said: “Dedicated Cray supercomputers in Azure not only give customers all the breadth of features and services from the leader in enterprise cloud, but also the advantages of running a wide array of workloads on a true supercomputer, the ability to scale applications to unprecedented levels, and the performance and capabilities previously only found in the largest on-premise supercomputing centres. The Cray and Microsoft partnership is expanding the accessibility of Cray supercomputers and gives customers the cloud-based supercomputing capabilities they need to increase their competitive advantage.”

Microsoft recently bolstered its high-performance computing (HPC) offering with the acquisition of Cycle Computing. The tie-up with Cray helps to broaden its HPC portfolio.

The two companies said Cray on Azure would help researchers, analysts and scientists train AI deep learning models in fields such as medical imaging and autonomous vehicles in a fraction of the time. “Pharmaceutical and biotech scientists driving precision medicine discovery can now perform whole genome sequencing, shortening the time from computation to cure,” they said.

Read more about HPC in the cloud

  • AWS’ FPGA and Elastic GPU instances both appeal to customers with HPC workloads, but admins should note these important differences between the two.
  • Microsoft hits cloud acquisition trail to make HPC accessible to a wider pool of enterprises.

“Automotive and aerospace product engineers can now conduct crash simulation, computational fluid dynamic simulations, or build digital twins for rapid and precise product development and optimised maintenance. Geophysicists in energy companies can accelerate oilfield analysis and reduce exploration risk through superior seismic imaging fidelity and faster reservoir characterisation.”

Through Microsoft’s partnership with Cray, Cray XC  and Cray CS supercomputers with attached Cray ClusterStor storage systems will be available for customer-specific provisioning in select Microsoft Azure datacentres, directly connected to the Microsoft Azure network.

The partnership follows Azure rival AWS’s tie-up with Nvidia in May, when the two companies said they would collaborate on delivering deep learning tools and training based on Nvidia graphics processors (GPU) running on AWS P2 and G3 cloud instances.

Next Steps

AI applications in the radiology field

Read more on Clustering for high availability and HPC