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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Introduces New Azure HX and HBv4 Virtual Machines for High-Performance Computing

Microsoft Introduces New Azure HX and HBv4 Virtual Machines for High-Performance Computing

Microsoft recently announced new HBv4-series and HX-series virtual machines (VMs) in preview, suitable for high-performance computing (HPC) workloads such as 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.

The HBv4-series and HX-series VMs feature 400 Gb/s NVIDIA Quantum-2 CX7 InfiniBand, 800 GB/s of DDR5 memory bandwidth, and 80 Gb/s Azure Accelerated Networking. In addition, the VMs come with PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSDs. Furthermore, the VMs will have the latest 4th Gen AMD EPYC CPUs (preview Q4 2022) and the "Genoa X" - expected H1 GA release for the HBv4 series next year.

According to preliminary benchmarks from the preview of HBv4 and HX series VMs using 4th Gen AMD EPYC processors across several typical HPC applications and domains, the VMs offer up to two times more performance improvements than the HBv3 series – and four and a half to six times more than the four-year-old HPC server.


In an Azure virtual machines blog post, the authors wrote the following on the HBv4 series:

With the introduction of HBv4 series VMs, Azure is raising the bar yet again—this time across an even greater diversity of memory performance-bound, compute-bound, and massively parallel workloads.

And the following on the HX series:

With the introduction of HX-series VMs, Azure is enhancing its differentiation with a VM purpose-built for even larger models becoming commonplace among chip designers targeting 3, 4, and 5-nanometer processes.

With the new VMs series for HPC, Microsoft tries to stay ahead of its competitors AWS and Google. AWS has high-performance computing (HPC) instances for the Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2) service (Hpc6a instances), powered by 3rd Gen AMD EPYC processors (Milan X) similar to the HBv3 series from Azure. At the same time, Google recently introduced a preview of the C3 machines series powered by the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Cloud and AI group at Microsoft, said in an announcement of the VMs:

This is just the start as we look forward to launching additional Azure VMS, including confidential computing capabilities on both virtual machines and containers on fourth-generation epic processors in the future.

The company expects to bring the HX-series and HBv4-series VMs to the East US region soon (preview access) and, after that, to the South Central US, West US3, and West Europe regions.

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