February 07, 2013, 8:33 PM — High performance cloud computing company Cycle Computing is no stranger to spinning up massive clusters of servers in Amazon's public cloud, but this week the company says it recently ran one of its largest jobs ever, one that used 10,598 multi-core instances.
Cycle Computing provisioned Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) servers for a pharmaceutical client to simulate a drug test. It took two hours to configure and ran for nine hours, for a total cost of $4,362. If the infrastructure had been built by the company, Cycle estimates it would have taken a 12,000-square-foot data center and cost $44 million. Cycle says it's the biggest job the company has performed in terms of the number of virtual machine instances that have been used for a single run.
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Cycle Computing's software provisions large amounts of cloud-based compute resources for HPC jobs. This particular run -- for a pharmaceutical company that Cycle would not name -- involved testing how millions of different compounds would interact with a protein that's commonly associated with a certain type of cancer.
Normally, running such a scientific experiment would be a hefty and costly job. Cycle estimates the task would take 341,700 hours to run on a single machine. Using Amazon's cloud and the combined power of roughly 10,600 virtual machine instances, Cycle finished the job in 11 hours total, the company explains in a blog post.
Cycle used Amazon's spot market to provision the resources, which are unreserved virtual machines in AWS's cloud. Unreserved instances are more expensive than on-demand instances, but provide more flexibility to the user. The Cycle software scheduled the virtual machines, scaled them to capacity and ran them at 99% CPU capacity. Cycle used open source tool Chef to configure the cluster.