Amazon brings new 3D GPU instances to the cloud

Amazon Web Services EC2 G2 GPU model
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

November 6th 2013 at 6:14AM

Developers can now access top of the line hardware through Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services unveiled a new cloud computing instance today, designed to stream 3D games and other graphically-intensive applications to mobile devices.

Companies like Agawi have used Amazon GPU instances for their streaming services for some time, but without DirectX and OpenGL the first iterations of the tech were rather limited.

“Since we launched Cluster GPU instances two years ago, many customers have asked for expanded functionality to extend the power of our GPU instances beyond HPC applications to graphics-intensive workloads such as video creation services, 3D visualizations and game streaming,” said Amazon vice president of EC2 AWS, Matt Garman.

“By enabling the use of DirectX and OpenGL, G2 instances allow developers to cost-effectively build scalable, fast 3D applications on Amazon EC2 and deliver high-performance 3D graphics using the cloud.”

Streaming companies aren't the only parties who can benefit from the changes; 3D design software manufacturer Autodesk and game publisher Ubisoft both chimed in with their approval.

“G2 instances for Amazon EC2 will enable us to deliver high-quality, client-agnostic 3D experiences to customers around the world without worrying about hardware performance and scalability,” said Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski.

“We also believe this will establish a new standard of design experiences that combine high-performance graphics with the vast compute and storage resources of AWS.”

For Autodesk, this opens the possibility of providing designers with the same tools they've previously only had access to on high-powered purpose-built PC rigs.

For Ubisoft, better cloud architecture means consumers can access AAA games without shelling out for expensive hardware.

“In the coming years, games streamed from the cloud are going to grow tremendously in numbers and in quality, and we believe that AWS is becoming a new and important gaming platform,” said the technical director of Ubisoft Cloud, Patrick Allaire.

“G2 instances combine the elasticity and scalability of Amazon EC2 with the GPU’s massive rendering power, allowing developers to cost-effectively deliver immersive and engaging entertainment experiences to a multitude of lower-capability client devices, such as Kindle Fire, iPad and Android tablets.”

The full specs for the system, made available in an Amazon blog post, are fairly impressive.

Each instance is powered by an NVIDIA GRID(GK104 "Kepler") GPU with 1,536 CUDA cores and 4 GB of video (frame buffer) RAM, an Intel Sandy Bridge 2.6 GHz Turbo Boost enabled processor with Turbo Boost and 8 vCPUs (Virtual CPUs), 15 GB of RAM, and 60 GB of SSD storage.