May 24

Atbrox is startup company providing technology and services for Search and Mapreduce/Hadoop. Our background is from Google, IBM and research.

Update 2010-Nov-15: Amazon cluster compute instances enters 231th place on top 500 supercomputing list.

Update 2010-Jul-13: Can remove towards from the title of this posting today, Amazon just launched cluster compute instances with 10GB network bandwidth between nodes (and presents a run that enters top 500 list at 146th place, I estimate the run to cost ~$20k).

The Top 500 list is for supercomputers what Fortune 500 is for companies. About 80% of the list are supercomputers built by either Hewlett Packard or IBM, other major supercomputing vendors on the list include Dell, Sun (Oracle), Cray and SGI. Parallel linpack benchmark result is used as the ranking function for the list position (a derived list – green 500 – also includes power-efficiency in the ranking).

Trends towards Cloud Supercomputing
To our knowledge the entire top 500 list is currently based on physical supercomputer installations and no cloud computing configurations (i.e. virtual configurations lasting long enough to calculate the linpack benchmark), that will probably change within in a few years. There are however trends towards cloud-based supercomputing already (in particular within consumer internet services and pharmaceutical computations), here are some concrete examples:

  1. Zynga (online casual games, e.g. Farmville and Mafia Wars)
    Zynga uses 12000 Amazon EC2 nodes (ref: Manager of Cloud Operations at Zynga)

  2. Animoto (online video production service)
    Animoto scaled from 40 to 4000 EC2 nodes in 3 days (ref: CTO, Animoto)

  3. Myspace (social network)
    Myspace simulated 1 million simultaneous users using 800 large EC2 nodes (3200 cores) (ref: highscalability.com)

  4. New York Times
    New York Times used hundreds of EC2 nodes to process their archives in 36 hours (ref: The New York Times Archives + Amazon Web Services = TimesMachine)

  5. Reddit (news service)
    Reddit uses 218 EC2 nodes (ref: I run reddit’s servers)

Examples with (rough) estimates

  1. Justin.tv (video service)
    In october 2009 Justin.tv users watched 50 million hours of video, and they cost (reported earlier) was about 1 penny per user-video-hour, a very rough estimate would be monthly costs of 50M/0.01 = 500k$, i.e. 12*500k$ = 6M$ anually. Assuming that half their costs are computational, this would be about 3M$/(24*365*0.085) ~ 4029 EC2 nodes 24×7 through the year, but since they are a video site bandwidth is probably a significant fraction of the cost, so cutting the rough estimate in half to around 2000 EC2 nodes.
    (ref: Watching TV Together, Miles Apart and Justin.tv wins funding, opens platform)

  2. Newsweek
    Newsweek saves up to $500.000 per year by moving to the cloud, assuming they cut their spending in half by using the cloud that would correspond to $500.000/(24h/day*365d/y*0.085$/h) ~ 670 EC2 nodes 24×7 through the year (probably a little less due to storage and bandwidth costs)
    (ref: Newsweek.com Explores Amazon Cloud Computing)

  3. Recovery.gov
    Recory.gov saves up to $420.000 per year by moving to the cloud, assuming they cut their spending in half by using the cloud that would correspond to $420.000/(24h/day*365d/y*0.085$/h) ~ 560 EC2 nodes 24×7 through the year (probably a little less due to storage and bandwidth costs). (ref: Feds embrace cloud computing; move Recovery.gov to Amazon EC2)

Other examples of Cloud Supercomputing

  1. Pharmaceutical companies Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson and Genentech
    Offloading computations to the cloud (ref: Biotech HPC in the Cloud and The new computing pioneers)

  2. Pathwork Diagnostics
    Using EC2 for cancer diagnostics (ref: Of Unknown Origin: Diagnosing Cancer in the Cloud)

Atbrox on LinkedIn

Best regards,

Amund Tveit, co-founder of Atbrox

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