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Amazon Builds 42nd Fastest Supercomputer, but it's on the Cloud

When we think of supercomputers, the image that generally comes to mind is one of racks and racks of specially built machinery kept in super-clean fluorescent rooms. While that may be true for the most powerful computers in the world, Amazon may be changing things. The online bookseller has apparently harnessed the power of its massive cloud computing platform called Elastic Cloud Computer (EC2) to create the 42nd fastest supercomputer in the world, which — strictly speaking — doesn’t exist here in meatspace.

Amazon’s virtual super computer is capable of running 240 trillion calculations per second, or 240 teraflops. That’s a far cry from the world’s fastest computer, Japan’s K Computer, which last we heard was humming along at around 10 petaflops. It’s even short of Intel’s crazy fast Knights Corner chip, which has fifty cores and one petaflop performance on a single chip.

However, Wired reports that for $1,279 per hour, anyone can run their applications across 300,000 cores on Amazon’s supercomputer cloud application. Compared to the millions of dollars required to roll your own supercomputer, that’s a pretty attractive offer. According to Read Write Web, Amazon took the #42 slot with a mere 17,024 cores.

While Amazon may not be pull the most intensive data customers away from the K Computer and others with its offering, it certainly will be turning heads with this new cloud capability. Also, it may be a signal that the more run-0f-the-mill services provided on the cloud are becoming even more robust: Consider, that Amazon was able to set up and run its cloud-based supercomputer all while thousands of its existing customers were running their cloud applications as well.

(Wired via Techmeme)

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