Google cloud debuts Intel’s latest Skylake processors

Google beats Amazon to the punch thanks to its recent partnership with Intel

Magdalena Petrova

Google today announced that it is the first IaaS public cloud provider to run the newest version of Intel’s chips, named Skylake.

The news comes just months after Google and Intel announced a partnership in November 2016 to co-engineer new processors for the company’s cloud platform.

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Skylake is the code-name for the next-generation silicon beyond Intel’s Broadwell processors.

“Skylake includes Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX-512), which make it ideal for scientific modeling, genomic research, 3D rendering, data analytics and engineering simulations,” explains Google Senior Vice President of Cloud Infrastructure Urs Holzle in a blog post announcing the news. “When compared to previous generations, Skylake’s AVX-512 doubles the floating-point performance for the heaviest calculations.” Holzle noted that the processors improve application performance by up to 30%.

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, says the news is important on a number of levels. “In practical terms, (this announcement) means that Google will have access to technology that offers a significant competitive advantage before any of its rivals--AWS, certainly but Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud and those that depend on ODM direct servers to populate their cloud infrastructures,” he notes.

The new capabilities in Skylake are noteworthy, too. “The nature of the enhancements in Intel Skylake, including the AVX-512 extensions mean that Google will have a head start on offerings for clients with data-intensive projects and workloads,” King says.

Public cloud providers like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are some of the biggest buyers of Intel’s newest chips. As PC sales slow, Intel sees big opportunities for supplying silicon that powers the ever-increasing compute needs of the hyper-scale cloud vendors. Intel also has a strong partnership with Amazon Web Services, the leader in the IaaS public cloud. Google being the first production cloud using the processors is somewhat of a win versus AWS.

"Google and Intel have had a longstanding engineering partnership working on Data Center innovation,” said Diane Bryant, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group. “This technology delivers significant enhancements for compute-intensive workloads, efficiently accelerating data analytics that businesses depend on for operations and growth.”

Google says Skylake processors are available now in five GCP regions: Western U.S., Eastern U.S., Central U.S., Western Europe, and Eastern Asia Pacific. Google did not disclose pricing information for the virtual machines that run Skylake or how they will be rolled out, however. Typically, cloud providers offer customers tiers of virtual machine types, including new VMs running the latest hardware. 

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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