Microsoft is the first cloud container provider to formally announce a new range of VMs based on the AMD EPYC platform. These VMs will be called the Lv2 Series, varying from 8 cores to 64 cores, and offering substantial DRAM and storage capabilities.

Back at the launch of EPYC, most of the major cloud providers had expressed interest in pursuing the capabilities of the new CPU for deployment in their cloud and to customers. At that time, the major statement was that the cloud providers were in the process of ascertaining the suitability for large-scale deployment, and optimizing the implementation to best suit them and the customers. Several months have passed, and Microsoft is the first to make the jump. Interested parties can, from today, sign up for a preview of the EPYC-based series.

Microsoft Azure VM Types
  Focus Example Hardware Monthly
A Series Entry-level Development
Low Traffic Web
Small Databases
Proof of Concept
Various $12+
Av2 Series Higher
Random IOPS
B Series Entry Level
Burst Performance
D Series General
Relational Databases
In-Memory Caching
E5-2673 v3 $42+
Dv2 Series D Series
+35% Perf
E5-2673 v3
Dv3 Series More Performance E5-2673 v4
Ev3 Series High Memory   E5-2673 v4 $100+
F Series Compute
Batch Processing
Web Servers
E5-2673 v3 $37+
Fv2 Series Platinum 8168 $65+
G Series Memory + Storage SQL/No SQL
Data Warehousing
E5 v3 CPUs
<0.5 TB DRAM
<32 CPUs
H Series High
High Perf Compute
Batch Processing
Molecular Modeling
Fluid Dynamics
E5-2667 v3
L Series Intel Storage
Data Warehousing
Transactional Databases
E5 v3 CPUs
Lv2 Series AMD Storage
EPYC 7551
Up to 64-core
M Series Memory
SQL Hekaton
In-Memory Critical
E7-8890 v3
<128 cores
NC Series GPU
Video Editing
NVIDIA K80 $659+
NCv2 Series Next Gen N-Series NVIDIA P100 $1515+
ND Series Designed for AI CNTK
Tesla P40
NV Series Visualization Remote Visualization
Deep Learning
Predictive Analytics
NVIDIA M60 $800+

*Pricing is also based on VM location, not all VM types are available in all locations

In Azure-speak, the L series of VMs are focused primarily on storage, with a nod also to CPU compute and memory. With 128 PCIe lanes available, there is the opportunity to get some really fast storage out of an EPYC platform, as well as large in-memory applications. In the press release today, it is stated that the 8-to-64 core VMs available will be targeting database applications, with NoSQL up on that list as well as a view towards Apache Spark (AMD recently released framework guidelines for Apache Spark on EPYC).

Lv2 VMs Available
  vCPUs Memory Local SSD
L8s 8 64 GiB 1 x 1.9 TB
L16s 16 128 GiB 2 x 1.9 TB
L32s 32 256 GiB 4 x 1.9 TB
L64s 64 512 GiB 8 x 1.9 TB

We asked several questions about the deployment, such as the Azure locations that will be EPYC enabled as well as which EPYC-specific security features are in use on the Azure platforms. Deployments in specific datacenters are not being discussed at this time, and the SME features of EPYC are not being used in Lv2. 

The servers will be based on the Microsoft Olympus platform, to which AMD demonstrated several system versions earlier this year, and is part of the Open Compute Platform project. The current series of VMs available are not GPU accelerated, however the Olympus platforms for EPYC can support GPU add-in-cards, so this could be a potential Azure product in the future. The servers currently available will be dual socket designs, using AMD’s EPYC 7551 processor, with 32-cores, a base frequency of 2.2 GHz and a single core turbo of 3.0 GHz. We suspect the use of 7551 was ultimately more cost/power effective over the 7601. The highest-capacity VM will be supported with up to 4 TB of memory, and support Azure premium storage disks by default with accelerated networking capabilities (not explained if 10 GbE or Infiniband or other). The VM types we were given only constitute the initial offering for now, with the 4 TB offering likely to come later.

Corey Sanders, Director of Compute at Microsoft Azure said, “We’re welcoming AMD’s new EPYC processor to Microsoft Azure with the next generation of our L-Series Virtual Machines. The new Lv2-Series are High I/O, dense storage offerings which make EPYC perfect for Azure customers’ demanding workloads. We’ve enjoyed a deep collaboration with AMD on our next generation open source cloud hardware design called Microsoft’s Project Olympus. We think Project Olympus will be the basis for future innovation between Microsoft and AMD, and we look forward to adding more instance types in the future benefiting from the core density, memory bandwidth and I/O capabilities of AMD EPYC processors.

AMD states that they will have other Cloud-related deployment news before the end of the year.

Related Reading

Source: Microsoft

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  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    It is the sauce of awesome to read about a little mixing up of CPU brands that make up the gooey insides of Azure! I'm gonna offer free shaves of legs, backs, armpits, and toes so people look like human seals when we all pile into cheerleader outfits to wave AMD pom-poms around. It'll be just like a middle school football game! Hmm, I need to stock up on shaving cream though. I wonder of you can get industrial sized cans of it from Costco. They sell those hot dogs there for like $1.50 so they should sell huge shaving cream cans too.
  • lilmoe - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

  • Bateluer - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    Wha? Did he just hit the autocomplete predict button on his phone for a paragraph?
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    Don't tell me Costco raised the price of their hot dogs! That was the only reason why I even went there in the first place.
  • rsandru - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    Now thanks to you I can't get this group armpit shaving image out of my head...
  • admnor - Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - link

    This Is What Happens When You Let Your Id Access Your Keyboard Directly.
  • HStewart - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    I think the title is misleading, it should mention that Microsoft has giving customers the option to use AMD Epyc CPU in Azure VM. For a second I thought Microsoft was going into Server Hardware business.
  • ET - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    "The Azure Platform is supported by a growing network of Microsoft-managed datacenters." (From the Azure website.) I think that this announcement does refer to the Microsoft cloud services.
  • romrunning - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    Microsoft is already in "server hardware" as they are a part of the "Open Compute Project", a joint effort by several huge companies (like Facebook) to create & use commodity-level ("open source") hardware (and hardware design) to run their data centers. That's already mentioned in the article. They simply aren't selling retail versions of their hardware designs that they use in their OCP data centers.
  • SkiBum1207 - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    What part of "Azure" and "VM" suggest that they are going into server hardware?

    Literally both of those are the anthesis of bare metal.

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