Now Google is bringing Intel's Ice Lake Xeon processors to its cloud

Google Cloud will have a preview of N2 VMs available with Intel's 3rd gen Ice Lake Xeon Scalable CPUs ready by Q4 2021.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google has announced the upcoming availability of Compute Engine N2 virtual machines (VMs) running on Intel's 10nm Ice Lake Xeon Scalable processors. 

While not available today, Google now belatedly joins Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle in confirming Intel's latest generation Xeon Scalable chips will be coming to its cloud. 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced general availability of Ice Lake Xeon Scalable processors in August. Microsoft announced preview availability in Azure shortly after Intel's April unveiling of the new data center chips. Meanwhile, Oracle announced pricing and availability in line with Intel's announcement.  

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Intel said at the time "all of the largest cloud service providers" plan to offer Ice Lake-powered cloud services in 2021. Now Google Cloud, the third largest public cloud provider behind AWS and Microsoft Azure, is officially onboard with the 3rd generation Ice Lake Xeon Scalable processors. 

Google Cloud announced the new Ice Lake Compute Engine instances ahead of its 'Next 21 online conference scheduled to begin on October 12.   

Its new N2 Ice Lake-powered VMs will cost the same as current N2 VMs based on Intel's 2nd gen (Cascade Lake) Xeon Scalable processors. The older generation can be discounted using existing N2 committed use discounts, according to Google. 

Google Cloud is offering a new top-end general purpose N2 VM with 128 virtual CPUs (vCPUs) and 864 GB of memory. The current top general purpose N2 VM offers 80 viCPUs.

By contrast, AWS created a new high-end Ice Lake Xeon Scalable instance, m6i.32xlarge, that consists of 128 vCPUs and 512 GB of memory. M6i instances are otherwise available with 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 48, 64, or 96 vCPUs. Microsoft's top general purpose Ice Lake VM, the Dv5-series, is available with 96 vCPUs and 384 GB memory.   

Google is also boosting the N2 Custom Machine Types maximum to 96 vCPUs as a potential upgrade path from first-gen general purpose N1 VMs.   

Google's N2 VM Intel Xeon offerings are in the same category as its N2D option based on AMD's EPYC CPUs for servers. Both are targeted at web serving, application service, back-office apps, large databases, caching and streaming workloads.  

Google notes in a blogpost that Ice Lake Xeon Scalable processors offer "built-in acceleration, advanced security capabilities, and larger mid-level and last-level cache, which, when combined with higher memory bandwidth, provide significant improvements in performance."

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Intel has touted its Software Guard Extensions (SGX) as a key differentiator of Ice Lake Xeon Scalable processors, which protect data confidentiality and integrity with secured memory areas called enclaves. 

It looks like the new N2 VMs Ice Lake Xeon Scalable Processors will become an option before the end of the year in some key regions. 

Google says they will be available "in preview in early Q4'21" in its us-central1, europe-west4 and asia-southeast1 regions. The new N2 VMs will also be available in other regions in "coming months". 

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