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.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.