AWS launches FPGA-based cloud instances to accelerate complex applications

New instance types will make specialized applications like machine learning run even faster

Amazon Web Services gave its cloud customers a set of new infrastructure capabilities aimed at making its compute offering faster for complex applications that benefit from hardware acceleration.

The F1 instance type, which entered beta on Wednesday, lets companies deploy applications that are accelerated by field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). FPGAs allow users to program hardware to perform a particular task quicker than a general-purpose processor would be able to.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy positioned the new instances as a way to democratize access to the hardware needed to optimize speed for particular applications. Several other public cloud providers have turned to specialized hardware like FPGAs to try and accelerate the speed of their offerings.  

IDC Program Director Al Hilwa said in an email that the F1 instances will be useful for highly customized workloads.

“Gaming and other types of testing applications are examples, but the biggest change versus a couple of years ago is the increase in image, video and audio stream processing, often done in the context of preparing data for machine learning,” he said.

Each F1 instance can be equipped with up to 8 Xilinx UltraScale+ VU9P FPGAs. In addition, they sport Intel Broadwell E5 2686 v4 processors, up to 976GiB of memory, and up to 4TB of NVMe SSD storage. (1GiB is roughly equivalent to 1.074GB.)

Amazon will be providing F1 customers with a hardware development kit and a sample image for getting started using FPGAs. In addition, Jassy said that companies that have already developed hardware-accelerated applications will be able to port them to F1 instances.

Amazon isn’t the only company using FPGAs in the cloud. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it had deployed over a million hardware cards carrying the gate arrays to servers in its cloud data centers across the globe. That hardware is being used primarily for accelerating networking between instances.

Scott Guthrie, the executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division, said earlier this month that the company is looking into tools for helping companies program FPGAs, as well.

Jassy unveiled the new instances at Amazon's Re:Invent conference keynote in Las Vegas as part of a refresh of Amazon's compute capabilities. In addition, Amazon unveiled upgrades to its burstable, memory intensive, high I/O, and compute intensive instances.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?