Microsoft Operating Systems for HPC Clusters and WorkstationsAce Computers has been working closely with Microsoft since 1983 to integrate the world’s finest operating systems into the hardware we sell. Although we offer a number of Microsoft operating systems, the most important currently are Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 Pro Workstation Edition.
Here is what’s new in Windows Server 2016:
ComputeThe Virtualization area includes virtualization products and features for the IT professional to design, deploy, and maintain Windows Server.
- General. Physical and virtual machines benefit from greater time accuracy due to improvements in the Win32 Time and Hyper-V Time Synchronization Services. Windows Server can now host services that are compliant with regulations that require a 1ms accuracy with regard to UTC.
- Compatible with Connected Standby: When the Hyper-V role is installed on a computer that uses the Always On/Always Connected (AOAC) power model, the Connected Standby power state is now available.
- Discrete Device Assignment: This feature gives a virtual machine direct and exclusive access to some PCIe hardware devices, bypassing the Hyper-V virtualization stack, which results in faster access.
- Encryption Support for the Operating System Disk in Generation 1 Virtual Machines: Users can now protect the operating system disk using BitLocker drive encryption in generation 1 virtual machines.
- Host resource protection: This helps prevent a virtual machine from using more than its share of system resources by looking for excessive levels of activity
- Hot add and remove for network adapters and memory: Users can now add or remove a network adapter while the virtual machine is running, without incurring downtime.
- Windows Containers: Windows Server 2016 container support adds performance improvements, simplified network management, and support for Windows containers on Windows 10.
- Nano Server. Nano Server has an updated module for building Nano Server images, including more separation of physical host and guest virtual machine functionality as well as support for different Windows Server editions.
- Shielded Virtual Machines. Windows Server 2016 provides a new Hyper-V-based Shielded Virtual Machine to protect any Generation 2 virtual machine from a compromised fabric.
Among the features introduced in Windows Server 2016 are the following:
- New "Encryption Supported" mode that offers more protections than for an ordinary virtual machine, but less than "Shielded" mode, while still supporting vTPM, disk encryption, Live Migration traffic encryption, and other features, including direct fabric administration conveniences.
- Full support for converting existing non-shielded Generation 2 virtual machines to shielded virtual machines, including automated disk encryption.
- Hyper-V Virtual Machine Manager can now view the fabrics upon which a shielded virtual is authorized to run.
- Users can switch Attestation modes on a running Host Guardian Service.
- End-to-end diagnostics tooling based on Windows PowerShell that is able to detect mis-configurations or errors.
- A recovery environment that offers a means to securely troubleshoot and repair shielded virtual machines within the fabric in which they normally run while offering the same level of protection as the shielded virtual machine itself.
- Host Guardian Service support for existing safe Active Directory.
Identity and AccessNew features in Identity improve the ability for organizations to secure Active Directory environments and help them migrate to cloud-only deployments and hybrid deployments.
- Active Directory Certificate Services. AD CS increase support for TPM key attestation: Users can now use Smart Card KSP for key attestation, and devices that are not joined to the domain can now use NDES enrollment to get certificates that can be attested for keys being in a TPM.
- Active Directory Domain Services. AD DS includes improvements to help organizations secure Active Directory environments and provide better identity management experiences for both corporate and personal devices.
- Active Directory Federation Services. AD FS in Windows Server 2016 includes new features that enable users to configure AD FS to authenticate users stored in Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directories.
- Web Application Proxy. The latest version of Web Application Proxy focuses on new features that enable publishing and pre-authentication for more applications and improved user experience.
AdministrationNew additions for Windows Server 2016 include: the ability to run PowerShell.exe locally on Nano Server (no longer remote only); new Local Users & Groups cmdlets to replace the GUI; added PowerShell debugging support; and added support in Nano Server for security logging & transcription and JEA. Here are some other new administration features: (More)
- PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) in Windows Management Framework (WMF) 5: Windows Management Framework 5 includes updates to Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC), Windows Remote Management (WinRM), and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).
- PackageManagement: Unified package management for software discovery, installation, and inventory. Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 includes a new PackageManagement feature that enables IT Professionals or DevOps to automate software discovery, installation, and inventory (SDII), locally or remotely, no matter what the installer technology is and where the software is located.
- PowerShell enhancements to assist digital forensics and help reduce security breaches. To help the team responsible for investigating compromised systems - sometimes known as the "blue team" – there is additional PowerShell logging and other digital forensics functionality, and added functionality to help reduce vulnerabilities in scripts.
NetworkingThis area addresses networking products and features for the IT professional to design, deploy, and maintain Windows Server 2016.
- Software-Defined Networking. Users can now both mirror and route traffic to new or existing virtual appliances. Together with a distributed firewall and Network security groups, this enables users to dynamically segment and secure workloads in a manner similar to Azure. Second, users can deploy and manage the entire software-defined networking (SDN) stack using System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Finally, users can deploy Docker to manage Windows Server container networking, and associate SDN policies not only with virtual machines but containers as well.
- TCP Performance Improvements. The default Initial Congestion Window (ICW) has been increased from 4 to 10 and TCP Fast Open (TFO) has been implemented. TFO reduces the amount of time required to establish a TCP connection and the increased ICW allows larger objects to be transferred in the initial burst.
Security and AssuranceThis includes security solutions and features for the IT professional to deploy in the datacenter and cloud environment.
- Just Enough Administration. This is security technology that enables delegated administration for anything that can be managed with Windows PowerShell.
- Credential Guard. This uses virtualization-based security to isolate secrets so that only privileged system software can access them.
- Remote Credential Guard. This includes support for RDP sessions so that the user’s credentials remain on the client side and are not exposed on the server side. This also provides Single Sign On for Remote Desktop.
- Device Guard (Code Integrity). This provides kernel mode code integrity (KMCI) and user mode code integrity (UMCI) by creating policies that specify what code can run on the server.
- Windows Defender. Windows Server Antimalware is installed and enabled by default in Windows Server 2016, but the user interface for Windows Server Anti-malware is not installed. However, Windows Server Anti-malware will update anti-malware definitions and protect the computer without the user interface. If users need the interface for Windows Server Anti-malware, they can install it after the operating system installation by using the Add Roles and Features Wizard.
- Control Flow Guard. CFG is a platform security feature that was created to combat memory corruption vulnerabilities.
StorageStorage in Windows Server 2016 includes new features and enhancements for software-defined storage, as well as for traditional file servers. Below are a few of the new features.
- Storage Spaces Direct. This enables building highly available and scalable storage using servers with local storage. It simplifies the deployment and management of software-defined storage systems and unlocks use of new classes of disk devices, such as SATA SSD and NVMe disk devices, that were previously not possible with clustered Storage Spaces with shared disks.
- Storage Replica. This enables storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between servers or clusters for disaster recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster between sites. Synchronous replication enables mirroring of data in physical sites with crash-consistent volumes to ensure zero data loss at the file-system level. Asynchronous replication allows site extension beyond metropolitan ranges with the possibility of data loss.
- Storage Quality of Service (QoS). Users can now deploy storage quality of service (QoS) to centrally monitor end-to-end storage performance and create management policies using Hyper-V and CSV clusters in Windows Server 2016.
Failover ClusteringWindows Server 2016 includes a number of new features and enhancements for multiple servers that are grouped together into a single fault-tolerant cluster using the Failover Clustering feature. Some of the additions are listed below.
- Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade. This enables an administrator to upgrade the operating system of the cluster nodes from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 without stopping the Hyper-V or the Scale-Out File Server workloads. Using this feature, the downtime penalties against Service Level Agreements (SLA) can be avoided.
- Cloud Witness. This is a new type of Failover Cluster quorum witness in Windows Server 2016 that leverages Microsoft Azure as the arbitration point. The Cloud Witness, like any other quorum witness, gets a vote and can participate in the quorum calculations. Users can configure cloud witness as a quorum witness using the Configure a Cluster Quorum Wizard.
- Health Service. This improves the day-to-day monitoring, operations, and maintenance experience of cluster resources on a Storage Spaces Direct cluster.
- Internet Information Services (IIS) 10.0. New features provided by the IIS 10.0 web server in Windows Server 2016 include:
- Support for HTTP/2 protocol in the networking stack and integration with IIS 10.0, allowing IIS 10.0 websites to automatically serve HTTP/2 requests for supported configurations. This allows numerous enhancements over HTTP/1.1 such as more efficient reuse of connections and decreased latency, improving load times for web pages.
- Ability to run and manage IIS 10.0 in Nano Server.
- Support for Wildcard Host Headers, enabling administrators to set up a web server for a domain and then have the web server serve requests for any subdomain.
- A new PowerShell module (IISAdministration) for managing IIS.
- Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MSDTC). The following three new features have been added in Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016+:
- A new interface for Resource Manager Rejoin can be used by a resource manager to determine the outcome of an in-doubt transaction after a database restarts due to an error.
- The DSN name limit is enlarged from 256 bytes to 3072 bytes.
- Improved tracing allowing users to set a registry key to include an image file path in the trace log file name so users can tell which trace log file to check.
Installation OptionsClients who choose the Datacenter or Standard editions are able to customize their installation of Windows Server 2016 by choosing from two options:
- Small-footprint, headless operating system removes the desktop UI from the server and runs only required components.
- Includes limited local graphical tools such as Task Manager and PowerShell for local or remote management.
- Does not include Server Manager or MMC tools.
Server with Desktop Experience (previously known as Server with a GUI)
- Provides user experience for those who need to run an app that requires a local user interface or for a Remote Desktop Services Host.
- Experience a full Windows client shell and experience, consistent with Windows 10.
- Use with PowerShell or GUI solutions such as Server Manager or Microsoft Management Console (MMC) tools.
Windows Server Datasheet
Windows 10 Pro Workstation EditionWindows 10 Pro for Workstations introduces new features to leverage the power of high-end workstations. The included features are already available on Windows Server, but are being brought over to a desktop version of Windows. Windows 10 Pro for workstations includes:
- ReFS (Resilient file system). ReFS provides cloud-grade resiliency for data on fault-tolerant storage spaces and manages very large volumes with ease. ReFS is designed to be resilient to data corruption, optimized for handling large data volumes, auto-correcting and more. It protects Users’ data with integrity streams on user-mirrored storage spaces. Using its integrity streams, ReFS detects when data becomes corrupt on one of the mirrored drives and uses a healthy copy of users’ data on the other drive to correct and protect data.
- Persistent Memory. Windows 10 Pro for Workstations provides the most demanding apps and data with the performance they require along with non-volatile memory modules (NVDIMM-N) hardware. NVDIMM-N enables users to read and write user files with the fastest speed possible; the speed of the computer’s main memory. Because NVDIMM-N is non-volatile memory, User files will still be there, even when users switch the workstation off.
- Faster File Sharing. Windows 10 Pro for Workstations includes a feature called SMB Direct, which supports the use of network adapters that have Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capability. Network adapters that have RDMA can function at full speed with very low latency, while using very little CPU. For applications that access large datasets on remote SMB file shares, this feature enables:
- Increased throughput: Leverages the full throughput of high speed networks where the network adapters coordinate the transfer of large amounts of data at line speed.
- Low latency: Provides extremely fast responses to network requests, and as a result, makes remote file storage perform like directly attached storage.
- Low CPU utilization: Uses fewer CPU cycles when transferring data over the network, which leaves more power available for other applications running on the system.
- Expanded Hardware Support. One of the primary pain points expressed by Windows insiders was the limit on taking advantage of the raw power of their machine. So Microsoft is expanding hardware support in Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. Users will now be able to run Windows 10 Pro for Workstations on devices with high performance configurations including server grade Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors with up to 4 CPUs; and add massive memory up to 6TB.
Windows 10 Pro for Workstations lets Windows power users maximize every aspect of their high-performance device. Windows 10 Pro for Workstations leverages significant investments that Microsoft has made in recent releases, for scaling up across a high number of logical processors and large amounts of memory. The architectural changes in the Windows kernel take full advantage of high-end processor families, such as Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron, that package a high number of cores in single or multi-processor configurations.
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