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Google cloud switches on Intel's Skylake Xeons and cloud CPU picker

Another thing cloud's changed: it used to be be server-makers that trumpeted CPU exclusives

By Simon Sharwood, 1 Jun 2017

A member of Intel's new “Xeon Scalable Family” has appeared in Google's cloud.

The Alphabet subsidiary says that Skylake Xeons are now generally available and that it is “the first and only public cloud to deliver Intel’s next-generation Xeon server processor”.

That's the kind of thing server-makers used to trumpet in the hope those with a need for speed would shop with a perhaps-unfamiliar supplier to get their hands on more clock cycles. The arrangement with Google looks similar: The Register understands that Intel cut a custom Xeon for the Alphabet subsidiary to use in the knowledge it would shout long and loud about the new Xeon's many fine qualities.

Google's not, however, sharing a lot. It is saying that Skylake-Xeon-powered instances have clock speed of 2.0 GHz and let you build virtual machines with up to 64 vCPUS and 455 GB of RAM. We still don't know exactly what's inside Skylake Xeons, which is no surprise given that Intel's only revealed branding for the CPUs and plans to reveal specifics about their their innards in coming days ahead of their mainstream launch.

For now we have Google's assurance that the CPUs are well-suited to demanding applications, but that they're nonetheless ready to roll inside its standard instances, as well as the gruntier highmem, highcpu, Custom Machine Types and Preemptible VMs. For now they're only offered in Google's Western US, Western Europe and Eastern Asia Pacific regions, but the company says “we have more capacity arriving every day, and support for additional regions and zones coming in the near future.”

Google's also added a new “Minimum CPU Platform” feature that lets you specify the worst CPU you're willing to use in its cloud. The company has admitted it has a fleet mixing Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell silicon. The new feature means if you specify Haswell, you'll never run on the older Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge. ®

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