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InfoQ Homepage News New Google Cloud H3 Virtual Machine Series for High-Performance Computing Workloads in Preview

New Google Cloud H3 Virtual Machine Series for High-Performance Computing Workloads in Preview

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Recently Google launched a new H3 Virtual Machine (VM) Series designed for High-Performance Computing (HPC) workloads. The series of VMs are available in public preview for Compute Engine and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) users and offers 88 cores (Simultaneous multi-threading disabled) and 352 GB of memory.

H3 VMs are powered by the 4th generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors (code-named Sapphire Rapids), DDR5 memory, and Google's custom Intel Infrastructure Processing Engine (IPU) – providing 200 Gbps network bandwidth for standard networking. In addition, it is only available in a predefined machine type (h3-standard-88) with no support for GPUs or local SSD, egress limited to 1Gb, and the persistent disk performance capped at 15,000 IOPS and 240 MB/s throughput.

The H3 machine series is part of Google Clouds compute optimized machine family, and the company claims the machines offer up to 3x improvement in per-node performance, improved scalability for multi-node workloads, and up to 2x better price performance, compared to the prior generation C2 instances (based on Intel Cascade Lake).

In weather forecasting (WRFv3) tests, H3 enables up to three times faster time-to-results at 50% lower costs than C2.

Overview of test results C2 vs. H3 performance and cost (Source: Google Cloud Blog)

The compute-optimized VMs like H3 and its other family members C2 and C2D are suitable for HPC workloads and workloads like high-performance web servers, game servers, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) workloads.

Matthew Shaxted, president of Parallel Works, said in the Google Cloud blog post:

With the new H3 machine series, we've noticed a greater than 2.5 times performance increase when run on multiple nodes, along with a significant overall job cost savings of ~50-70%. This makes H3's cost/performance level a necessity for leaders in the numerical weather prediction industry.

Alongside Google, Azure and AWS offer a selection of instance types for HPC- and similar compute-optimized workloads. For instance, Microsoft introduced HBv4-series and HX-series VMs last year, and AWS recently launched Amazon EC2 P5 Instances.

Regarding the Intel Xeon Sapphire Rapids, Google released C3 Virtual Machines in late 2022 as general-purpose optimized virtual machines showing that investments with these CPUs span multiple machine-type families in the Google Cloud.

Lastly, H3 VMs are available in the US-central1 (Iowa) and Europe-west4 (Netherlands) regions. However, the pricing of the H3 machines is currently not available on the pricing page.

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