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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.

Desire Athow

Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Then followed a weekly tech column in a local business magazine in Mauritius, a late night tech radio programme called Clicplus and a freelancing gig at the now-defunct, Theinquirer, with the legendary Mike Magee as mentor. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global techfests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. He has an affinity for anything hardware and staunchly refuses to stop writing reviews of obscure products or cover niche B2B software-as-a-service providers.