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AWS opens up preview access to instances run on Intel's Sapphire Rapids processors

Want to kick the tires early? You'll have to ask for an invitiation

AWS has announced its first virtual machine instances powered by Intel's "Sapphire Rapids" silicon despite the chipmaker telling the world just a few weeks ago that its fourth generation Xeon Scalable CPUs would launch in January.

The new Amazon R7iz instances are available in preview now via the AWS EC2 service, with "in preview" signifying that a service is not quite ready for general use and that interested parties looking to test out Intel's latest processors will have to request access and be invited to join the preview.

According to the cloud giant, the R7iz instances offer users the highest performance per virtual CPU of any x86-based EC2 instances, thanks to an all-core turbo frequency up to 3.9GHz. It claims these can deliver up to 20 percent higher performance than its existing z1d instances, which are based on custom Xeon Scalable silicon that can run all cores at up to 4.0GHz.

AWS classes the new R7iz instances as memory-optimized, high-frequency instances, with chief evangelist Jeff Barr describing them as a perfect match for Electronic Design Automation (EDA), financial, actuarial, and simulation workloads.

"They are also great hosts for relational databases and other commercial software that is licensed on a per-core basis," he added.

The R7iz instances are set to be available in multiple sizes, including two bare metal options, with up to 128 vCPUs and 1TB of memory. They also offer up to 50Gbps of networking speed and 40Gbps of Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) bandwidth, according to AWS.

Because the new instances are based on fourth gen Xeon Scalable silicon, they are also Amazon's first x86-based instances to use DDR5 memory, with the company claiming this provides up to 2.4x higher memory bandwidth than comparable high-frequency instances.

Intel said at the start of this month that the Sapphire Rapids processors would officially launch on January 10 following reports that mass production of the chips had been delayed to 2023.

At its Intel Innovation event in September, the chip giant said it had begun shipping early Sapphire Rapids CPUs to the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois for use in the Aurora A21 exascale supercomputer. As its name suggests, this was supposed to come online last year, but was hit by delays to the delivery of Intel's chips.

For now, Amazon's preview R7iz instances offer potential users the chance to try out the capabilities of the 4th generation Xeon Scalable processors ahead of their launch.

The latest announcement comes just after AWS announced Hpc7g Instances, compute-centric virtual machines powered by the Graviton3E CPU, the latest version of its in-house Arm-based processors. ®

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