Azure Updates: Networking; High performance computing; HBv2 VMs; IoT; Digital Twins

November 22 2020

Microsoft issues updates around its global Azure networking capabilities, high performance computing, HBv2 VMs, IoT and Digital Twins, and more.

Following up on the recent theme of Azure networking capabilities, CTO Mark Russinovich drew attention to key capabilities in Microsoft's networking strategy. Azure services are delivered with software-defined WANs, Route Anomaly Detection and Remediation, and SDN-based Internet Traffic Engineering. According to Russinovich, Azure Peering Service optimizes connectivity for the "last mile" for Internet Service Providers. He delved into Bandwidth Broker and continuous monitoring strategies.

Senior product marketing manager Kevin Raines touted the growing use of high-performance computing by customers and looked back at important developments this year. Last year, Microsoft entered a strategic partnership with OpenAI and released a joint API early in the year based around the OpenAI general purpose language model. Duke University leveraged Microsoft AI for Health to run 800,000 computer hours in 36 hours to determine how to split a single ventilator among multiple Covid-19 patients. Similarly, UCB launched a COVID Moonshot initiative, relying in-part on HPC. Key technological changes around HPC this year include HBv2 HPC clusters with 80,000 AMD "Rome" cores, NVv4 VMs, together with NDv2 HPC and AI clusters with NVIDIA V100 Tensor Core GPUs. Raines also touched on leadership changes and partner products.

Azure HPC principal program manager Evan Burness also focused on compute, looking back at the launch of HBv2 VMs a year ago. Microsoft endeavored to deliver on its "bold" claim that the VM could rival "the most advanced supercomputers on the planet." In conjunction with the Supercomputing 2020 event, Microsoft announced that it has achieved a new Message Passing Interface-based HPC scaling milestone, running Nanoscale Molecular Dynamics across 86,400 CPUs. As part of the project, the Azure team worked with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at University of Illinois to study Covid-19. According to Burness, Microsoft places on the Graph500 supercomputing index. In fact, using the BeeOND file system across 300 HBv2 VMs, one initiative achieved 1.46 TB/s.

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