Microsoft and Cray have entered into a strategic partnership that will give Azure users access to Cray’s supercomputers. The companies announced today that enterprises which subscribe to Microsoft Azure will be able to use dedicated Cray supercomputing systems which will be installed in the Azure datacenters.

microsoft and cray
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Microsoft and Cray team up

Cray has been around for decades and is known for the supercomputers it designed decades ago. However, the company is still around now and still builds supercomputers designed for use as a sort of rental because almost no one can afford to own one. However, only those who work on the cutting edge of industry and academia really need the amount of power offered by Cray supercomputers anyway.

Under the terms of the new partnership, enterprise customers that use Microsoft Azure will gain access to Cray supercomputers in some Microsoft datacenters. Customers can use the supercomputing power to run artificial intelligence applications or advanced analytics, simulations, and modeling “at unprecedented scale, seamlessly connected to the Azure cloud,” Cray announced in a press release.

Working together, Microsoft and Cray will enable each other’s cloud customers “to harness the power of supercomputing and multiply their problem-solving potential.” Through the partnership, customers who didn’t previously have access to a Cray system will be able to perform complex computing actions in a fraction of the time it would normally be able to do them.

Many new potential applications for customers

Among the examples Cray gave were training deep learning models in autonomous vehicles, medical imaging, and other fields, whole genome sequencing in precision medicine discovery to reduce the amount of “time from computation to cure.” Engineers working in automotive and aerospace can simulate crashes or perform “computational fluid dynamic simulations.” Energy geophysicists can speed up their analysis of oil fields and cut down the risks associated with exploration.

“Our partnership with Microsoft will introduce Cray supercomputers to a whole new class of customers that need the most advanced computing resources to expand their problem-solving capabilities, but want this new capability available to them in the cloud,” Cray President and Chief Executive Peter Ungar said in a statement.

The partnership between Microsoft and Cray is also aimed at making Cray supercomputers more accessible and providing cloud-based supercomputing capabilities. The partnership will make Cray XC and Cray CS supercomputers with attached Cray ClusterStore storage available for use by specific customers in certain datacenters for Microsoft Azure. The systems integrate with Azure Virtual Machines and Data Lake storage and Microsoft’s AI platform.