Microsoft follows Google's lead, adding Skylake to Azure

The VMs will provide twice the processing power for data-intensive workloads

Azure interface

Microsoft has added Intel's Skylake processors to its public cloud service, giving those needing to power high-demand workloads in the cloud the processing oomph their applications require.

The move means only AWS remains to add support to its cloud service, after Google added Skylake and Nvidia GPUs to its cloud TPUs back in May and IBM added Skylake support in July. Amazon revealed its intentions to add Intel's Skylake CPUs to its Fv2 VMs almost a year ago, but the hardware is still yet to materialise in practice.

"In Azure, we have seen growing demand for massive large-scale computation by customers doing financial modeling, scientific analysis, genomics, geothermal visualization, and deep learning," Corey Sanders, director of compute for Azure, explained. "Our drive to continuously innovate in Azure allows us to offer cost effective and best-in-class hardware for these world-changing workloads ... Now, with the Fv2, Azure offers the fastest CPU-powered calculations based on the Intel Intel Xeon Scalable processor."

The company's Fv2 instances run on the Intel Xeon Platinum 8168 processor, with a base core frequency of 2.7 GHz and a maximum single-core turbo frequency of 3.7 GHz. By contrast, Google's Skylake implementation only offers a maximum frequency 2.0 GHz.

Microsoft said the addition of Skylake support will provide twice the performance when using vector processing workloads on single and double precision floating point operations.

The Fv2 VMs will be available in seven sizes, with the smallest option featuring 2 vCPUs, 4GB memory, 16GB local SSD, up to the largest size with 72vCPUs, 144GB memory and a 576GB SSD.

"These sizes will support Azure premium storage disks by default and will also support accelerated networking capabilities for the highest throughput of any cloud and ultra-low VM to VM latencies," Sanders added. "With the best performance to price ratio on Azure, Fv2 VMs are a perfect fit for your compute intensive workloads."

Main image credit: Bigstock

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