Google has announced a new family of virtual machines that will be the first in the public cloud market to be powered by Intel''s fourth-generation Xeon server processors.
The company has lifted the lid on its new C3 VMs, which they claim can provide better predictable and efficient compute performance owing to a built-in architecture that allows for certain tasks to be left offloaded to supporting hardware.
The addition of new Hyperdisk block storage in the mix, meanwhile, means C3 VMs provide 4x the throughput and 10x higher IOPS per vCPU than the previous generation, C2.
Powered by custom silicon
The first step to achieving performance increases with the new generation of VMs, according to Google, is the system-on-chip (SoC) technique, which integrates a fourth-gen Xeon CPU with a custom-built Intel infrastructure processing unit.
IPUs were created by Intel in the summer of 2021 and are intended to assist cloud and network providers in reducing CPU performance by offloading tasks like storage and network virtualization, which provides numerous security benefits. In essence, IPUs are almost identical to data processing units.
According to Nick McKeown, the SVP and GM of Network and Edge, we have teamed up the first ASIC Infrastructure Processing Unit with Google Cloud.
C3 VMs will execute workloads on the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors while freeing up programable packet processing to the IPUs securely at line rates of 200Gb/s. This Intel and Google collaboration enables customers through a more secure, flexible, and reliable infrastructure.
Separately, Intel will be relieved to see its new Xeon CPUs (codenamed Sapphire Rapids) in place in a manufacturing environment. The new chips were originally scheduled to launch in 2021, but the rollout has been hampered by repeated delays, and Intel is still battling to bring them to the market.
While select customers (presumably including Google Cloud) gained access to Sapphire Rapids silicon earlier this year, it now appears like the rest of the world will have to wait until Q1 2023.
According to Google, the new Xeon processors were at least worth the wait, putting some VM customers in front of a performance advantage of 20%, when combined with the custom Intel IPU.