Feeds

Fresh evidence Amazon is ARMing its huge cloud against Intel et al

Attention, CPU gurus: Web bazaar wants to pour your brains into its servers

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

In early April, Amazon Web Services' chief technology officer Werner Vogels told The Reg that “there is absolutely room for ARM in the data centre” because “power management for ARM is considered state of the art” and AWS is “always looking for efficiency”.

It now transpires that AWS is also looking for a “CPU architect / micro-architect.” The job posting for that gig has vanished from the web, but this one for a ”CPU and System Architect” to join a “Silicon Optimization Engineering Team” remains.

The role needs someone with “deep knowledge in the following areas:”

  • Server platform processor architecture
  • Micro-architecture performance and workload characterization
  • Memory subsystem performance optimization
  • Server platform power optimization
  • Virtualization technology

The Silicon Optimization Engineering team has already hired Director David Borland, whose work history includes stints at Intel, Marvell and Calxeda, suggesting he knows his way around just about every nook and cranny of a server.

Why would Amazon need those skills in-house? The company is extremely secretive about its operations, but the "CPU architect" job description – as noticed by Gigaom – suggests it is developing new server hardware at the very least. If that's the case, it is bad news for the likes of Quanta, as AWS would be treating them as dumb manufacturers rather than relying on them for innovation.

If the team and the hires are a signal that AWS wants to design custom silicon to power those servers, it's terrible news for Intel because any challenge to its dominance of high-end silicon will hit it in the place it hurts most: high-margin products. There is upside in the fact that, unlike Facebook, AWS doesn't like to open source its innovations. So even if AWS adopted ARM, it would likely not start to create the ecosystem of drivers and other code that VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, among others, feels ARM needs before it can challenge x86 in the data centre. Intel will therefore be hoping AWS doesn't find open source religion at the bottom of a motherboard.

Of course Gelsinger and Vogels are talking about very different data centres. But both are keen on hypervisors, Gelsinger because it is his core product. During his chat with The Reg earlier this month, Vogels opined that once a workload sits inside a hypervisor, the underlying silicon matters little.

But he also said that some AWS customers have figured out the silicon underpinning some AWS instances and like the fact they're working on a particular CPU. How AWS would explain a move to ARM to those customers is anyone's guess. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.