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AWS could 'consider' ARM CPUs, RISC-as-a-service

CTO Vogels says 'power management for ARM is considered state of the art'

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) chief technology officer Werner Vogels believes the cloudy colossus could, in the future consider using ARM CPUs, or even offering RISC-as-a-service to help those on legacy platforms enjoy cloud elasticity.

Speaking to The Register in Sydney yesterday, Vogels said he feels “there is absolutely room for ARM in the data centre”.

AWS, he added, is “always looking for efficiency” and as “power management for ARM is considered state of the art” it makes sense to consider it.

One obstacle to ARM adoption is that some AWS customers are starting to build tightly-coupled applications. Since the introduction of the M3 instances (which Amazon advertises as using a Xeon E5-2670 and solid state disk) Vogels says “it turns out some customers figure out what processor is running under their instance.”

“Our customers will figure out if they are running on ARM,” he said.

Another processor architecture AWS has considered is IBM's Power, because customers realise platforms like AS/400 don't have much of a future.

“AS/400 customers do not want to buy the next generation … they would like it if we did that,” Vogels said. “We have had the request from a number of customers, mainly out of the financial world, that have essential investments in that [RISC] world.”

AWS hasn't “really seen the case at scale yet” to create a RISC cloud and Vogels said “I don't know whether we would ever consider it, but we never say never. It is a radically different architecture we would lock ourselves into that for a very specific set of customers.”

The company is more likely to instead focus on application migration services to move customers to cloudy implementations of WebSphere and other platforms offered on RISC, rather than creating a RISC cloud.

“The world is no longer processor-dependent,” Vogels said. ®

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