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Using xCAT to Provision Windows HPC Server 2008 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Document Author:
Additional Author(s):

Quang Le
Daniel Ghidali, Mayooran Thiru

Document ID:


Doc. Organization:

Systems and Technology Group

Document Revised:


Product(s) covered:

N series; xSeries

Abstract: Administrators and IT departments running an x86-based HPC (High Performance Computing) cluster have previously had to choose a specific operating system to run on the cluster, either multiple variants of Linux®, or Microsoft® Windows®. While homogenous clusters allow for easier systems deployment and management, they fail to provide access to the wide range of resources available through running a hybrid, multiplatform HPC cluster. Traditional dual-boot methods have been advanced in the past, typically using manipulation of the MBR (Master Boot Record) on individual compute nodes. However, these methods have limited flexibility, require disk-based compute nodes, and lack unified systems management capability.
In this white paper, we will describe how to leverage IBM’s open-source xCAT 2.4 tool to create a hybrid, on-demand HPC cluster environment that can boot to multiple Linux and Microsoft Windows images using both standard and diskless compute nodes. Best practices for infrastructure design and multiple installation methods will be discussed, and use of IBM System Storage™ N series for iSCSI boot will be described.



Hardware; Software; Solutions


Installation and Migration


Business Innovation and Optimization (BIO)




IBM BladeCenter; IBM System x Family


Linux; Windows


xCAT, Windows Server 2008, RHEL, HPC

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