Azure Updates: High-performance computing; Windows Virtual Desktop; Image Builder

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Microsoft recapped some of its high-performance computing achievements in 2021, such as generally available FX-series VMs, an AI Collaborations Centers partnership, and big projects like HPC for the UK Met office. The Azure team attended the International Supercomputing Conference 2021.

Senior program manager Andy Jia shed light on the FX-series VM offering. Founded on 2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Processors, FX-series VMs offer local temporary SSD, high performance CPU, and are currently GA in West US 2, West Europe, and Japan East. They are designed for compute-intensive EDA calculations.

For storage and compute tasks, Microsoft is expanding credit-based disk bursting to Azure Standard SSDs E30 and below, restricting the scope of personal access tokens for DevOps, and adding NFS 3.0 protocol support for Blob storage. The last of these three updates, NFS 3.0 protocol support, makes Blob Storage data accessible through the Blob REST API, with options to conduct analysis with ADLS Gen2. It was introduced with the goal of running large-scale apps efficiently.

Product marketing manager Michael Yen-Chi Ho shared how to improve image building with the Azure VM Image Builder service. This managed service built on HashiCorp Packer lets users describe custom images in a single template. It offers ways to patch or update existing images, connect to existing VNets, and call the image builder from pipelines.