imagesWe have been proponents of Amazon’s EC2 service from  the very beginning and – warning: shameless self-promotion – have built some pretty impressive applications on top of it. Check out the Sweety High social networking site, for example. Now you can take high-performance computing to the cloud. Amazon has added a relatively cheap HPC service to its EC2.

For $1.60 an hour, one EC2 cluster compute instance provide 23 GB of memory, 33.5 EC2 compute units, which consist of two Intel Nehalem quad-core processors each, 1690 GB of storage, 10 Gb Ethernet access. If that is not enough horsepower, Amazon allows its customers to group up to eight (or more on special request) cluster compute instances into clusters – allowing applications to get the low-latency network performance required for tightly coupled, node-to-node communication. Depending on usage patterns, applications can see up to 10 times the network throughput of the largest current Amazon EC2 instance types, the company said.

There isn’t much you can’t do on Amazon’s EC2 service and even those who traditionally have run supercomputers may be doing the math already. Rob Gillen, a researcher and developer at Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee, said colleagues have already figured out that his department could replace its cluster with an AWS cluster for $208 per hour.” In comparison to the cost a supercomputer, that sounds like a good deal to me.

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