UPDATED 10:45 EDT / NOVEMBER 15 2011


Super Size Me – Amazon Web Services Launches “Extra Large” Supercomputer Clusters in the Cloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a new high performance computing instance and it’s a big one. In a blog post this morning, Jeff Barr of AWS described an instance that advances the idea of a supercomputer in the cloud.

Granted, this is not the kind of service available to the general public. But who knows how long it will take before we can all do our own supercomputer analysis?

AWS super computing capabilities also parallels what we see throughout the enterprise. These supercomputers are in effect taking on-premise HPC computing and moving it to the cloud.

The practitioners are largely the same group of people but it provides them a considerable improvement as it removes barriers that you find in on-premise environments. Long waits for HPC clusters and lack of support for new software are issues you don’t have in the cloud.

What HPC Now Runs on AWS

According to AWS, customers run a variety of HPC applications on its HPC instances “including Computer Aided Engineering, molecular modeling, genome analysis, and numerical modeling across many industries including Biopharma, Oil and Gas, Financial Services and Manufacturing. In addition, academic researchers are leveraging Amazon EC2 Cluster instances to perform research in physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, and materials science.”

Harvard’s Medical School is using AWS HPC clusters to understand how genetic research can be applied in a clinical environment for advancing personalized medicine:

What’s New

Cluster Compute Eight Extra Large is the newest member of the AWS Cluster Compute family. Here are some of the specs:

CC2 is the name of the API for accessing the new instance. It includes two Intel Xeon processors, each with 8 hardware cores.


We’ve enabled Hyper-Threading, allowing each core to process a pair of instruction streams in parallel. Net-net, there are 32 hardware execution threads and you can expect 88 EC2 Compute Units (ECU’s) from this 64-bit instance type. That’s nearly 90x the rating of the original EC2 small instance, and almost 3x the rating of the first-generation Cluster Compute instance.

As for storage, the CC@ instance type has 60.5 GB of RAM and 3.37 TB instance storage.

There is more in Barr’s blog post. AWS continues to show its super strength as the leading infrastructure for cloud services. Can OpenStack ever come close to what AWS offers?

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