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Amazon rolls out AWS Snowcone for portable, ruggedized edge computing

News Analysis
Jun 24, 20202 mins
Cloud Computing

The AWS Snow family of secure edge-computing and data-transfer devices gains its smallest member: the 4.5-pound Snowcone.

aws snowcone 2020
Credit: Amazon

Snowcone is the newest and smallest addition to the lineup of AWS Snow edge-computing devices, which are designed to collect data from remote, disconnected locations, process the data locally, and then move the data to an AWS data center.

The rugged AWS Snowcone measures 9 inches x 6 inches x 3 inches and weighs just 4.5 pounds, making it small enough for a backpack or mailbox. It has an E Ink display for shipping labels, which is the same display as the Kindle.

While many edge-computing environments are connected to either the Internet or a 4G/5G wireless network, some are not because of capacity or access limitations, for example. These environments may capture and process data, but until they send it up to the network, it’s of little use. With AWS’ Snow devices, enterprises can move the data to an AWS data center either by shipping the device to AWS or using AWS DataSync to send the data to AWS over the network.

Snowcone features two CPUs, 4GB of memory (which is rather paltry by today’s standards), 8TB of storage, and USB-C power (or optional battery). AWS says it can run in the roughest of remote sites – such as oil rigs, first-responder vehicles, military operations, and factory floors – as well as remote offices, hospitals, or movie theaters. Snowcone has a wide operating temperature range from freezing (0 degrees C/32 degrees F) to desert-like conditions (38 degrees C/100 degrees F), and can withstand even harsher temperatures when in storage or being shipped (-32 degrees C/-25.6 degrees F to 63 degrees C/145.4 degrees F).

“With more applications running at the edge for an expanding range of use cases, like analyzing IoT sensor data and machine learning inference, AWS Snowcone makes it easier to collect, store, pre-process, and transfer data from harsh environments with limited space to AWS for more intensive processing,” said Bill Vass, vice president of storage, automation and management services at AWS, in a statement.

Like other AWS Snow devices, all data on AWS Snowcone is encrypted using military-grade 256-bit keys that customers can manage using the AWS Key Management Service (KMS). Additionally, AWS Snowcone contains anti-tamper and tamper-evident features to help ensure data on the device stays secure during transit.

Snowcone is available in the US East (Northern Virginia) and US West (Oregon) AWS Regions, with availability planned in additional areas in the coming months.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.