Is it time to dump your cluster?

An interesting recent announcement from Werner Vogels, CTO at Today, Amazon Web Services took very an important step in unlocking the advantages of cloud computing for a very important application area. Cluster Computer Instances for Amazon EC2 are a new instance type specifically designed for High Performance Computing applications. HPC resources will be available in "Cluster Compute Instances". The current instance type is:

  • 23 GB of memory
  • 33.5 EC2 Compute Units (2 x Intel Xeon X5570, quad-core “Nehalem” architecture)
  • 1690 GB of instance storage
  • 64-bit platform
  • I/O Performance: Very High (10 Gigabit Ethernet)

There is a default usage limit for this instance type of 8 instances (providing 64 cores). You can request more instances from Amazon. As far as pricing, the reported price is set at $1.60 per single instance per hour or $12.80 per hour for a cluster instance. Not a bad price if you want to run a few jobs (even overflow work) without investing in new hardware. As I recall, Grid Engine can even be used to submit jobs to your EC2 account.

In terms of performance, LINPACK (HPL) results are on par with similar clusters built with 10 GigE. See Amazon's High Performance Computing (HPC) page for more information.

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