Amazon announced recently that they will be providing not only CPU processing power and storage online (the way they have for several years now) but Graphical computing as well. This really does change things
Amazon Web Services sounds complicated and most people haven't come into direct contact with it - except that they have. That's because if they've used almost any of the well-know cloud systems and social media sites like Pinterest, Netflix, Pinterest, Adobe, Shazam - and so on - they all use AWS. Hundreds of other well-known companies use Amazon but just don't shout about it.
So you've probably been using it without realising or noticing it.
What's attractive about it is that if you're a small - or big - company, you can forget the cost of buying and running a rack of servers, and the responsibility for maintaining them and backing them up. Using AWS is not cheap, but it is proportional to your needs, so there's certainly a good business case for it.
But, nevertheless, it's as an end user to the companies subscribing to AWS that you'll have used it rather than as a direct user. So, until now, it hasn't mattered much to most people who aren't in the IT business.
Physical GPU inside a virtual machine
But now, all of that is set to change - especially for anyone that works with video. Because this week, Amazon announced that it is going to include access to Physical GPU processing from within its virtual machines. Which means that from now, it will be possible not just to store video in the cloud, but to do heavy-duty processing on it as well.
So why would you want to do this? Especially when it's still quite slow to upload video.
Well, it won't be for most people much longer. Broadband speeds are mushrooming (unless you live where I do!). In cities, which is where most media industry clusters are found, there either is or will be soon 1Gbit/s broadband links, probably bidirectional. And more speed will follow.
For mobile users, LTE is already at or around 100 Mbit/s. That's enough for some useful work. And mobile is exactly where you'll see the biggest differences, because your iPad will become a graphics workstation. Absolved of the responsibility for actually processing anything, your iPad only has to give you a graphical interface and communication with AWS.
If you upload your material at the beginning of the project, you'll be able to work on it anywhere. At exactly the same time as airlines are allowing you to use your mobile gear during take off and landing, you'll be able to render your latest 3D model from your aircraft seat.
Here's what Amazon has to say:
We are excited to announce the immediate availability of Cluster GPU Instances for Amazon EC2, a new instance type designed to deliver the power of GPU processing in the cloud. GPUs are increasingly being used to accelerate the performance of many general purpose computing problems. However, for many organizations, GPU processing has been out of reach due to the unique infrastructural challenges and high cost of the technology. Amazon Cluster GPU Instances remove this barrier by providing developers and businesses immediate access to the highly tuned compute performance of GPUs with no upfront investment or long-term commitment.
They go on to say:
The new instance is backed by a high-performance NVIDIA GRID™ GPU with 1,536 parallel processing cores, making it ideally suited for video creation services, 3D visualizations, streaming graphics-intensive applications and other server-side graphics workloads requiring massive parallel processing power. With this new instance type, customers can build high-performance DirectX, OpenGL, CUDA and OpenCL applications and services without making expensive up-front capital investments
We're not the only ones that think this is important. Industry veteran Bob Cringely said:
Amazon Web Services quietly released on Tuesday a pair of new instances on its EC2 cloud computing service. Not just new instances but a while new type of instance aimed at 2D and 3D graphical computing. For the first time from AWS in a generally available instance, developers and users will have access to virtual machines with GPUs. It's like putting a PC in the cloud. More properly, it is like putting *your* PC in the cloud. I think this has great disruptive potential. And it means we'll see similar services coming soon from other cloud providers.
The idea that you can work at a relatively feeble computer and have all the heavy work done on a server has been around for at least fifteen years. But in that time the concept has changed. The internet has made us far more used to working "in a browser", and connectivity has improved as well.
More than just Cloud Computing
So, while just about every time we look at a web page, we're doing cloud computing, and while Google Docs is a perfectly functional web-based tool for most things, heavy duty processing like transcoding or rendering have been out of bounds up to now because of the inefficiencies involved. But now, even the most demanding programs will work in the cloud. It really is that big of a deal.
By the way, in case you think you've never used AWS before: you're using it now. Redshark is hosted on Amazon.
Amazon's full press release is after the break.
Press Release: Amazon Web Services Introduces New Amazon EC2 GPU Instance Type
New GPU instance enables high-performance 3D graphics processing from the AWS cloud
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 5, 2013-- Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), today announced G2 instances, a new Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance designed for applications that require 3D graphics capabilities. The new instance is backed by a high-performance NVIDIA GRID™ GPU with 1,536 parallel processing cores, making it ideally suited for video creation services, 3D visualizations, streaming graphics-intensive applications and other server-side graphics workloads requiring massive parallel processing power. With this new instance type, customers can build high-performance DirectX, OpenGL, CUDA and OpenCL applications and services without making expensive up-front capital investments. To get started with G2 instances on Amazon EC2, visit http://aws.amazon.com/ec2.
“Since we launched Cluster GPU instances two years ago, many customers have asked for expanded functionality to extend the power of our GPU instances beyond HPC applications to graphics-intensive workloads such as video creation services, 3D visualizations and game streaming,” said Matt Garman, Vice President, Amazon EC2, AWS. “By enabling the use of DirectX and OpenGL, G2 instances allow developers to cost-effectively build scalable, fast 3D applications on Amazon EC2 and deliver high-performance 3D graphics using the cloud.”
“Autodesk is constantly innovating to provide our customers greater flexibility to access powerful 3D design tools from anywhere, anytime and from any device without compromising performance,” said Jeff Kowalski, Chief Technology Officer, Autodesk, a world leader in 3D design software. “G2 instances for Amazon EC2 will enable us to deliver high-quality, client-agnostic 3D experiences to customers around the world without worrying about hardware performance and scalability. We also believe this will establish a new standard of design experiences that combine high-performance graphics with the vast compute and storage resources of AWS.”
“Ubisoft is a leading producer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment products worldwide. For more than 25 years, our games have been played on a variety of hardware types and configurations,” said Patrick Allaire, Technology Director, Cloud, Ubisoft. “In the coming years, games streamed from the cloud are going to grow tremendously in numbers and in quality, and we believe that AWS is becoming a new and important gaming platform. G2 instances combine the elasticity and scalability of Amazon EC2 with the GPU’s massive rendering power, allowing developers to cost-effectively deliver immersive and engaging entertainment experiences to a multitude of lower-capability client devices, such as Kindle Fire, iPad and Android tablets.”
“Animoto is an online video creation service that makes it easy to generate and share extraordinary videos using photos, video clips, words and music,” said Siddharth Jain, Vice President, Engineering, Animoto. “We have been using Amazon EC2 GPU instances since they launched two years ago to render high-quality video creations via our patented cinematic artificial intelligence technology. We believe that migrating to the new G2 instance type will lower our video rendering costs by roughly 50 percent while giving us more flexibility to dynamically manage instances in accordance with our growing user activity. With increasing consumer demand for creating professional-looking user generated content from any device, G2 instances will become an important platform in the post-PC world.”
Customers can launch G2 instances using the AWS console, Amazon EC2 command line interface, AWS SDKs and third-party libraries. Initially, G2 instances are available in the US East (N. Virginia), US West (N. California), US West (Oregon) and EU (Ireland) regions and will be made available in other AWS regions in the coming months. G2 instances can be purchased as On-Demand, Reserved and Spot instances. For more information on Amazon EC2 and GPU instances, visit http://aws.amazon.com/ec2.
About Amazon Web Services
Launched in 2006, Amazon Web Services, Inc. began exposing key infrastructure services to businesses in the form of web services -- now widely known as cloud computing. The ultimate benefit of cloud computing, and AWS, is the ability to leverage a new business model and turn capital infrastructure expenses into variable costs. Businesses no longer need to plan and procure servers and other IT resources weeks or months in advance. Using AWS, businesses can take advantage of Amazon's expertise and economies of scale to access resources when their business needs them, delivering results faster and at a lower cost. Today, Amazon Web Services provides a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of enterprise, government and startup customers businesses in 190 countries around the world. Amazon Web Services offers over 30 different services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). AWS services are available to customers from data center locations in the U.S., Brazil, Europe, Japan, Singapore and Australia.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth’s Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as Books; Movies, Music & Games; Digital Downloads; Electronics & Computers; Home & Garden; Toys, Kids & Baby; Grocery; Apparel, Shoes & Jewelry; Health & Beauty; Sports & Outdoors; and Tools, Auto & Industrial. Amazon Web Services provides Amazon’s developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon’s own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Kindle Paperwhite is the world’s best-selling and most advanced e-reader. It features new display technology with higher contrast, the next generation built-in light, a faster processor, the latest touch technology, and exclusive new features designed from the ground up for readers. Kindle, the lightest and smallest Kindle, features improved fonts and faster page turns. The new Kindle Fire HDX features a stunning exclusive 7” or 8.9” HDX display, a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, 2x more memory, and 11 hours of battery life, as well as exclusive new features of Fire OS 3.0 including X-Ray for Music, Second Screen, Prime Instant Video downloads, and the revolutionary new Mayday button. The all-new Kindle Fire HD includes an HD display, high-performance processor and dual speakers at a breakthrough price.
Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.co.jp, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.ca, www.amazon.cn, www.amazon.it, www.amazon.es, www.amazon.com.br, www.amazon.in, and www.amazon.com.mx. As used herein, “Amazon.com,” “we,” “our” and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.
This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment and data center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com's financial results is included in Amazon.com's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.