As I pointed out a few weeks ago, cloud computing is not always the right tool for the job -- specifically, when there are high-end computational requirements and the processors need to be more tightly coupled to support high-performance computing standards such as MPI.
However, infrastructure service providers, such as Amazon Web Services, are perhaps finally putting the right tools in the shed. That seems to be Amazon.com's intent with its new high-performance-computing (HPC) cloud service offering, which could provide a home for those special applications that require supercomputing power.
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Amazon.com's Cluster Compute Quadruple Extra Large is a 64-bit platform with 23GB of memory, 1,690GB of instance storage, and 10Gbps of Ethernet I/O performance composed of 33.5 Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) compute units. The default usage limit for the Cluster Compute instance type is eight instances, or 64 cores, although customers can request more, the company says.
That's hardly the kind of genetic-workload infrastructure platform Amazon Web Services is best known for. Even critics are warming up to the upmarket offering. For example, although the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laborator found Amazon.com's EC2 wanting, NERSC has now determined that its HPC applications run 8.5 times faster than on previous EC2 instance types, according to Amazon.com.