Google Offers 96-Core Cloud Instance Using Skylake Processors

Google has announced it is scaling up its cloud computing offerings with a new machine type that provides up to 96 virtual CPUs (cores) and 624 GB of memory.

Back in March, the web giant expanded its largest virtual machine from 32 to 64 cores, and up to 416 GB of RAM. When that was announced, Google’s Urs Hoelzle said they would be expanding the core count and memory sizes later this year, which they have now done. The 64-core instance was based on Intel’s Haswell generation Xeon processors.

In this case, the 96-core machine type will use Intel’s Skylake CPU, officially known as the Xeon Scalable processor. According to Intel, compared to the previous-generation Broadwell Xeon processors, these new chips provide 20 percent better performance overall, with 82 percent faster speeds on certain HPC workloads and almost twice the memory bandwidth. According to Google’s webpage that defines the various machine types, they will be using 2.0 GHz Skylake processors for this new instance.

Three predefined memory configurations are available: Standard (360 GB), High-CPU (86.4 GB), and High-Memory (624 GB). Google say you can also use its custom machine types and extended memory facility to build other configurations with the new Skylake chips.

The  624 GB configuration is certified for SAP HANA in-memory workloads. And Google says you can chain 16 of these instances together to provide 9.75 terabytes of memory across a virtual cluster. This scaled-out solution has been certified for SAP’s business warehouse solution, BW4/HANA.

Although this machine type appears to be aimed principally at in-memory database processing, it could also be employed for more traditional high performance computing, which can take advantage of both the more powerful Skylake Xeon processors and the larger memory footprint. This would be especially useful for data-intensive work in areas like genomics, financial services, and seismic engineering, among others.

Even larger configurations are already on the drawing board. Google says they’re working on machine types with up to 4 TB of memory. For the time being though, customers will have to be satisfied with the sub-terabyte configurations. The new machine type is currently in beta and is available in four of Google’s cloud regions: Central US, West US, West Europe, and East Asia. Those interested in getting early access can sign up here.

For what it’s worth, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers 128-core instances based on the older Haswell Xeon E7 CPUs, running at 2.3 MHz. The x1e.32xlarge instance, which was announced in September, comes with 4 TB of memory. According to AWS, 8 and 16 TB versions are in the works.

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