The largest provider of cloud computing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), announced recently that it will allow users to rent processing capacity that uses a new generation of its Graviton chips. The product, according to Peter DeSantis, senior vice president and manager of most of AWS' technical teams, is a platform for expanding access to high-performance computing.
The newest chip is Amazon's most recent push to produce more of the hardware for its large data centers that power AWS. Making its own chips, according to Amazon, will provide clients access to more powerful computers at a lower cost than they could by renting time on processors made by companies like Intel Corp., Nvidia Corp., or Advanced Micro Devices Inc. These businesses, which are also some of AWS's biggest suppliers, are now in direct competition with it because of the new chips. According to DeSantis, the chipmakers are still "excellent partners," and AWS intends to keep providing high-performance computing services based on their chips.
To kick-start its in-house chip designs, which initially were concentrated on basic computing activities like serving as the foundation for websites, AWS bought chipmaker Annapurna Labs in 2015. The high-performance computing initiative, which was unveiled at the opening of the AWS re:Invent trade conference, aims to show that Amazon's proprietary technology can compete head-to-head with chips from leading manufacturers.
The Inferentia chip, which is made to make deductions from enormous volumes of data, has undergone an update, according to AWS Chief Executive Officer Adam Selipsky, who made the announcement the second day of the re:Invent conference. According to Amazon, Inferentia2 handles larger data sets than its predecessor, making it possible to perform tasks like software-generated graphics or speech recognition and interpretation.
Among the most sophisticated systems powered by cutting-edge semiconductors are computers that forecast weather patterns and simulate the aerodynamics of race cars. Usually, enterprises, government agencies, and academic institutions have created pricey computer systems in their own data centers using components from Intel, Nvidia, and AMD.
According to DeSantis, the Graviton3E, the most recent model in AWS's line of Graviton processors, will be twice as capable as earlier models in one category of calculations used by high-performance computers. When combined with other AWS technology, the new offering will be 20% better than the previous one. Amazon didn't say when services based on the new chip would be available.
“The reason that high-performance computing isn’t big is it’s hard,” DeSantis said. “It’s hard to get capacity, it’s hard to get time on that supercomputer. What we’re excited about is bringing the capabilities of high-performance computing to more workloads.”