Amazons Elastic Compute cloud

Maluke reports this new service from Amazon. It offers instant massive server capacity for short-term work – eg for simulations or render farms. In effect you set up andadminister the server using some Java tools you download and a key, wait for it to give you an IP address, the connect to that and off you go. Sounds better than their Mechanical Turk

Maluke says: “if you need for ex. 100 instance-hours to complete the computation, you can make your own cluster of 20 machines of similar power (will cost about $10000 for hardware alone) and complete the task in 5 hours, you can use EC2 to create this virtual cluster, compute and then shut it down when done and pay much less — $10 per job. Or you could use EC2 to create a 200 machine virtual cluster, complete the job in half an hour and pay the same $10 for it. ”

Amazon claim “simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazons proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change.”

Setting up a standard Linux server seems quite simple. Server farms may not be quite that easy, but this would be well within the range of a university department or SME and would bring massive simulation within their reach (or make them a variable rather than a fixed cost, which is about the same thing for an SME.)

The assumption is also that Amazons servers will be more reliable than any small ISPs, or your own in-house machines.

You have to ask before you run more than 20 instances at any one time. I dont know what capacity Amazon are allocating to this project, or how they would cope with really large demands. However if it takes off, this would get easier.

BTW, the Mechanical Turk is still going, and as of now you could earn $0.10 for telling someone called Steve Kantor what you think about holidays in New Jersey.

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