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July 02, 2012

Renting petaflop cloud supercomputing by the hour

Google demonstrated 600,000 cores running a genomics application. Google says that Compute Engine has access to 770,000 cores — a figure that will surely grow over time. These cores are made available as Linux virtual machines (VMs), with 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores each. Each core apparently has access to 3.75GB of RAM each — and, of course, each VM is connected together using Google’s advanced networking technologies and topologies. 777,000 cores, assuming the entire Compute Engine cluster consists of 8-core CPUs, equates to 96,250 computers. The Google Compute Engine website says that an 8-core VM with 30GB of RAM costs $1.16 per hour. For 600,000 cores, you need 75,000 VMs — so, $87,000 per hour, or $2 million per day.

Cycle Computing, a high-performance computing vendor, has successfully bonded 3,809 eight-core Amazon AWS Elastic Compute 2 instances together to create a supercomputer cluster of 30,472 processor cores with 27TB of memory and 2PB of storage. The running cost — or at least the cost you’ll have to pay Cycle for dedicated access to the cluster — is just $1,279 per hour, or about four cents per core.


Google is claiming that Compute Engine gives you 50% more bang for your buck — though the company didn’t go as far as calling Amazon or Microsoft out. A quick glance at the Amazon EC2 pricing page suggests that Google’s $1.16/hour is actually more expensive, but perhaps it isn’t an apples-apples comparison.

Google Compute with 30,472 cores would be about $4,200 per hour.

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