Amazon sells processing power of its compute grid

* Amazon launches beta of compute cluster program

Amazon last week released the beta of a compute cluster from which users can buy processing power for their Web-based applications.

The Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, also called Amazon EC2, is similar to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), which makes storage capacity available to users in a grid-like fashion.

EC2 lets customers minimize the time it would take to obtain new servers and configure them. Customers can requisition machines and load custom applications on them, changing them as necessary. EC2 lets administrators create images that contain applications, libraries, data and configuration settings, so they can quickly configure servers. Special preconfigured images are also available.

EC2 is priced by the hours servers use and by the total bandwidth used to run the job.

Users can increase or decrease capacity at will and can access multiple servers at once. Each server consists of a 1.7-GHz Xeon CPU with 1.75GB of RAM, a 160GB hard disk and 250Mbps of bandwidth.

With EC2, customers pay for only what they use. The cost is 10 cents per hour of time consumed and 20 cents per gigabyte of data transferred out of Amazon. Amazon EC2 works only on Linux.

You can find out more about EC2 here.

The beta is currently full but if you sign up now, Amazon will send you an e-mail of when it can accommodate more users. Code samples and documentation can be viewed here.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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