AWS Unveils New HPC Instances with Fast Cores

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced a new set of instances designed for applications that can benefit from high core performance.

Known as Z1d, the new instances use Intel Xeon “Skylake” Scalable processors that can operate at speeds of up to 4.0 GHz across all its cores.  To get such performance, the processors will rely on the Xeon’s Turbo Boost feature, which can bump the base clock frequency by more than a gigahertz on certain models.

AWS is offering Z1d in six configurations, from 2 to 48 virtual CPUs (vCPUs) – vCPUs are basically equivalent to physical cores – with 8 GB of memory per vCPU. Local storage is suppled by NVME SSDs, while network connectivity is provided by the AWS Elastic Network Adapter (ENA). The Z1d maximal configuration of 48 vCPUs comes with 384 GB of memory, two 900 GB SSDs and 25 Gbps of network bandwidth. The specs for all the configurations are provided below.



The new offering is aimed at certain types of HPC workloads that rely on high single-core performance. This includes applications like financial risk analysis, electronic design automation (EDA), and finite element analysis (FEA).  Amazon thinks relational database work that is constrained by high per-core license fees will also benefit from this instance type.

Z1d instances can be launched AWS Cluster Placement Groups, a feature that allows multiple instances to be grouped together – a necessity for many HPC workloads, or in this case for any application that needs more than 48 cores or 384 GB of memory.

Along with the Z1d addition, AWS also announced a new “memory-optimized” instance, which goes by the names R5. They’re aimed at applications that use in-memory analytics, distributed caching, and other “big data” techniques. Like Z1d, the R5 comes in six configurations, from 2 to 96 vCPUs, with the same 8 GB of memory per CPU and the same spread of network bandwidth.  In this case though, the processor cores top out at 3.1 GHz, once again using Turbo Boost. A R5d variant has also announced; it has the same specs as the R5, but with the addition of local NVMe storage (up to 3.6 TB).

According to Amazon, the new instances will “be available soon.” As of now, pricing has not been revealed.

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