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Intel Xeon Scalable Processors power new AWS C5 Instances for HPC

Today, Amazon Web Services announced the availability of C5 instances, the next generation of compute optimized instances for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Designed for compute-heavy applications like batch processing, distributed analytics, and HPC, C5 instances feature 3.0 GHz Intel Xeon Scalable processors (Skylake-SP) up to 72 vCPUs, and 144 GiB of memory—twice the vCPUs and memory of previous generation C4 instances—providing the best price-performance of any Amazon EC2 instance.

The C5 instances are welcome news to company’s like Alces Flight Compute, who specialize in making it easy for researchers to spin up High Performance Computing clusters of any size on AWS.

With the support for AVX-512, the new c5.18xlarge instance provides a 200 percent improvement in FLOPS compared to the largest C4 instance,” said Wil Mayers, Director of Research and Development for Alces. “This will reduce the execution time of the scientific models that our customers run on the Alces Flight platform. The larger c5.18xlarge size with 72vCPUs reduces the number of instances in the cluster, and has a direct benefit for our user base on both price and performance dimensions.”

Optimized to deliver the right combination of CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity for a wide range of workloads, all latest generation Amazon EC2 instance families—including C5—feature AWS hardware acceleration that delivers consistent, high performance, low latency networking and storage resources. C5 instances provide networking through the Elastic Network Adapter (ENA), a scalable network interface built by AWS to provide direct access to its networking hardware.

Additional dedicated hardware and network bandwidth for Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) enables C5 instances to offer high performance storage through the scalable NVM Express (NVMe) interface. C5 instances introduce a new, lightweight hypervisor that allows applications to use practically all of the compute and memory resources of a server, delivering reduced cost and even better performance. C5 instances are available in six sizes—with the four smallest instance sizes offering substantially more Amazon EBS and network bandwidth than the previous generation of compute optimized instances.

Customers have been happily using Amazon EC2’s unmatched selection of instances for more than 11 years, yet they’ll always take higher and more consistent performance if it could be offered in a cost-effective way. One of the challenges in taking this next step is how to leverage the cost efficiency of virtualization while consuming hardly any overhead for it,” said Matt Garman, Vice President, Amazon EC2, AWS. “We’ve been working on an innovative way to do this that comes to fruition with Amazon EC2 C5 instances. Equipped with our new cloud-optimized hypervisor, C5 instances set a new standard for consistent, high-performance cloud computing, eliminating practically any virtualization overhead through custom AWS hardware, and delivering a 25 percent improvement in compute price-performance over C4 instances—with some customers reporting improvements of well over 50 percent.”

Grail is a life sciences company whose mission is to detect cancer early, when it can be cured. “Our platform processes a huge amount of DNA sequencing data to detect faint tumor DNA signals in a sea of background noise,” said Cos Nicolaou, Head of Technology at Grail. “We are eager to migrate onto the AVX-512 enabled c5.18xlarge instance size. With this change, we expect to decrease the processing time of some of our key workloads by more than 30 percent.”

Rescale is another company specializing in HPC that will benefit from the new C5 instances. Rescale enables customers in the aerospace, automotive, life sciences and energy sectors to run utility supercomputers using AWS:

C5 fully supports NVMe and is ideal for the I/O intensive HPC workloads seen on Rescale’s ScaleX platform,” Ryan Kaneshiro, Chief Architect at Rescale, said. “C5’s higher clock speed and AVX-512 instruction set will allow our customers to run their CAE simulations significantly faster than on C4 instances.”

According to AWS, C5 instances are generally available today.

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