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Amazon gets Intel to build custom Xeon CPU

Intel's semi-custom CPU business is growing
Intel's semi-custom CPU business is growing

Amazon revealed that Intel has built a custom, Haswell-based processor called the Xeon E5-2666 v3, one that will deliver compute-optimised EC2 instances called C4.

The processor runs at a base clock speed of 2.9GHz and can reach clock speeds of up to 3.5GHz. The processor will power instances with a two vCPU count all the way up to 36 with up to 60GB RAM on the latter and 10Gbps network connectivity.

Not much is known about that processor; the 2663 model is a 10-core, 10 thread model with a base clock speed of 2.8GHz. a turbo frequency of 3.5GHz and 25MB L3 cache while the 2667 one has a lower core count (eight) but more threads (16) with a higher base frequency (3.2GHz) and a turbo frequency of 3.6GHz.

Amazon is not the first big custom CPU client Intel has enlisted; earlier in July, the company confirmed that it build a Xeon E7-8890 v2 CPU for database giant, Oracle.

What's interesting with both of those chips is that they contain an onboard FPGA that provides it with a degree of flexibility, allowing the hardware to be tweaked on-the-fly without the need for a reboot. Intel has secured more than 30 custom product wins in 2014, more than double what it achieved in 2013.