Amazon Launches New EC2 GPU Instances For High-Performance 3D Graphics In The Cloud

Amazon today launched a new type of instance for its EC2 cloud computing platform that is specifically designed for applications that require 3D graphics capabilities. When you think about cloud computing, high-performance 3D graphics are probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but given how much compute power that 3D visualizations and streaming graphics-intensive applications require, this new instance type is a logical next step for AWS.

Using these new instances, Amazon argues, its users can now “build high-performance DirectX, OpenGL, CUDA, and OpenCL applications and services without making expensive up-front capital investments.”

Amazon is making two of these new GPU instance types available for now. The g2.2xlarge version comes with 15 GiB memory, 60 GB of local storage, 26 EC2 Compute Units (that’s an Intel Sandy Bridge processor running at 2.6 GHz) and a single NVIDIA Kepler GK104 graphics card (with 1536 CUDA cores). The larger cg1.4xlarge version comes with 22 GiB of memory, 1690 GB of local storage, 33.5 EC2 Compute Units and two NVIDIA Tesla “Fermi” M2050 GPUs. On-demand prices start at $0.65 per hour for the smaller instance and $2.10 for the larger one.

A single GPU, Amazon argues, can support up to eight real-time 720p video streams at 30fps (or four 1080p streams).


These new instances are now available in Amazon’s U.S. East, West (California and Oregon) and EU (Ireland) data centers, and Amazon is making machine images with support for these instance types available, too.

“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 Matt Garman, Vice President, Amazon EC2, AWS in a statement today. “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.”

Amazon also supports OTOY’s ORBX.js on these GPU instances. This is a downloadable HD codec written in JavaScript and WebGL that allows you to stream 3D-intensive applications right from the cloud without the need for any plug-ins, codecs or other client-side software except for the browser. This project is backed by Mozilla, Autodesk and OTOY. This means, Mozilla notes in an announcement today, that “Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers will be able to use the power of graphics processing in the Cloud and OTOY’s ORBX.js streaming technology to deliver high performance games and desktop applications to the Web – using only HTML5 and JavaScript.”

Autodesk, for example, will use this technology to make applications like 3DS Max, Autodesk Maya and Autodesk Inventor available through any modern web browser. OTOY also today demonstrated apps like Photoshop CS6 and games from Valve running in the browser using ORBX.js. OTOY has already published a number of ORBX.js-enabled machine images for EC2, including one for Autodesk’s applications.

Amazon also announced that Playcast Media will use its new g2 instances to stream video games soon and that Agawi True Cloud will use it to stream games and apps to mobile devices.