Azure gets two next-gen VMs leveraging AMD's latest 4th gen EPYC processors

Azure logo new - full color - on dark grey background

The cloud computing space often sees major competitors such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google trying to lead the pack in terms of innovative leaps in performance. Earlier this year, Amazon announced new high performance computing (HPC) instances for its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) platform in the form of Hpc6a. Powered by AMD's 3rd Gen AMD EPYC processors, these instances were noted to offer 65% better price performance compared to other, high-performing AWS EC2 instances offered at the time.

Today, hot on the heels of AMD announcing its 4th gen EPYC processors, Microsoft has unveiled two new, next-gen Azure VMs, in the form of the HX-series and HBv4-series. The former does not only include the very latest technologies such as the aforementioned, but also AMD EPYC processors from even further in the future - "Genoa X" - which are slated for an expected H1 GA release next year.

To minimize costs and maximize performance, the new VMs also feature:

  • 800 GB/s of DDR5 memory bandwidth (STREAM TRIAD).
  • 400 Gb/s NVIDIA Quantum-2 CX7 InfiniBand, the first on the public cloud.
  • 80 Gb/s Azure Accelerated Networking.
  • PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSDs delivering 12 GB/s (read) and 7 GB/s (write) of storage bandwidth.
A chart showcasing Microsoft Azures year-on-year improvement through high-performance HPCs

In terms of relative performance, Microsoft's testing across multiple domains indicates that the HBv4 and HX perform at least 2x better than the HBv3 series, and around 4-5x better than "four-year-old" server technology. Workloads that have been denoted as being optimized for the new series' include computational fluid dynamics (CFD), finite element analysis, frontend and backend electronic design automation (EDA), rendering, molecular dynamics, computational geoscience, weather simulation, AI inference, and financial risk analysis.

With regards to the HX-series specifically, the VM is targeting larger models that utilize processes of 3, 4, and 5nm standards. With up to 60 GB of RAM per core, HX VMs will be showcasing 3x more RAM than any H-series VM that users have experienced before. Both of the new series will also be Azure's first ones to utilize the 400 Gigabit NVIDIA Quantum-2 InfiniBand.

Microsoft has noted that the HBv4 VMs will be upgraded to Genoa X processors when the latter is released, with the additional offering of 3D V-cache then being available as well. For those who want to dive in further into the technical specifications surrounding the latest releases, they can do so here.

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