Skip Links

High performance computing, the latest 'it' thing in the cloud

Startup leverages InfiniBand to compete with growing crop of cloud providers offering powerful machines

By , Network World
September 11, 2012 11:36 AM ET

Network World - Every few months something new pops up as the latest and greatest feature touted by cloud providers. Earlier this year it was platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings. Recently, vendors have been pushing free or low-cost versions of their clouds. Now, perhaps it's time for high performance computing to have its turn in the spotlight.

This week, a new entrant into the market named ProfitBricks is coming forth with impressive network speed capabilities in its cloud, according to an independent review of the European company's performance. This falls in line with Amazon Web Services, which released a solid-state disk high input/output compute option over the summer.

MORE CLOUD: Cloud computing companies to watch

ELSEWHERE IN THE CLOUD: Startups rush to the cloud

ProfitBricks uses InfiniBand, a wired fabric that allows more than triple the data transfer rate between servers as compared to two of the industry's biggest players, Amazon and Rackspace, according to a test conducted by Cloud Spectator. "No one really comes up to their level in terms of networking speed in the U.S.," says Kenny Li, co-founder of the cloud analytics firm.

ProfitBricks is a European company founded in 2010 by Achim Weiss and Andreas Gauger, whose former managed hosting company, 1&1, was sold to United Internet and now is a leading international Web hosting company. It raised $18 million in venture funding, including from United Internet, and has had customers in beta in the U.S. and Europe until making its services generally available this week.

ProfitBricks allows users to customize their public cloud to their heart's content, providing a range of computing options that it says is wider than most of the big players in the market. Many cloud providers, including Amazon and Microsoft Azure, offer tiers of cloud computing resources that include a certain number of cores, virtual machines and memory. ProfitBricks instead allows users to choose as many cores and as much memory as they want, ranging from 1 to 48 cores and anywhere up to 192GB of memory. Some of Amazon's highest offerings, by comparison, include 88 Elastic Cloud Compute units, with 60GB of memory in its XL cluster compute offering.

On its back end, ProfitBricks uses Mellanox dual QDR 40Gb/s InfiniBand switches to connect the server and storage infrastructure, while using a KVM hypervisor and AMD Opteron processor. The company serves up 60 virtual machines per server, about a threefold increase over typical virtual machine per server deployments using 10G Ethernet connections, it says.

The company is one of the first cloud providers to use InfiniBand, Li says. While it's not new technology, analyst Bob Laliberte of Enterprise Strategy Group says InfiniBand just never really found a home in enterprise deployments or service providers. Some fast-trading Wall Street shops and research institutions may use it, but it's unnecessarily high performance for mainstream enterprises, he says. Ethernet's continued development has made that the default options for most deployments, he says, but a growing crop of HPC offerings could foreshadow InfiniBand's increased use.

Our Commenting Policies
Latest News
rssRss Feed
View more Latest News