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  • Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

Intel’s new Ice Lake Processor support for N2 VMs supported by Google Cloud

Another rotation around the sun Intel® is introducing a new generation Ice Lake processor for computers with 30% more boost than previous generation Xeons®. It’s been some time since we saw a new-gen high price-performance for CPUs as Intel was stuck with the same old 14 nm chips. Newer generation Ice Lake CPUs are going to support Google Cloud’s Compute Engine N2 VMs. It’s the third generation from the Xeon® series with a base frequency of 2.6 GHz and a boost clock of 3.4 GHz to support a wide variety of workloads.

Though we only had leak info earlier, Google Cloud confirmed that their new mission is already in test by some authorities. E-commerce firm Shopify tested the upcoming CPU and said, “with Google Cloud’s new N2-Ice Lake VM’s, we were able to achieve improvements on all these areas.” Senior software developer of Shopify Justin Reid said they were “able to achieve over 10% performance improvements for one of our compute-intensive workloads.” It proves that the manufacturers don’t just sneak peek anymore but do real-world testing by real-world applicants, and it is good news.

Larger machine shapes for newer N2 VMs

Updated CPUs will have the most extensive offering by Intel, with up to 128 vCPUs and 864 GB of memory. It is possible to scale the workload with a higher thread count. One of the most remarkable features of having multiple threads is that the workload is divided equally among all cores leaving more room. The cores have free available space to handle other tasks or smoothly focus on the most intensive load. N2 custom machine sizes are also increased to 96 vCPUs, a compelling upgrade from the previous generation.

Though there is a considerable upgrade from the prior generation of processors, the price will be the same as the previous one, making it an easy upgrade with greater value. Two weeks before Google Cloud Next, the news came with collaboration in cloud technology. We will have a much clear idea at the event, and even Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle also confirmed support for the CPU.

According to Google Cloud Compute Engine N2 status, the new CPU will support 100 Gbps VM networking with 9 TB SSD options, making it an exciting choice for companies that go through a demanding workload with tremendous data processing units.

Relative price-performance data indicates that N2-Cascade Lake has 100% workload capability, 135% improvement over transcode time, 142% Nginx improvement, 146% greater value for MySQL database programs, 148% server-side java throughput under SLA, and 198% OpenSSL speed AES-256 encryption security. This data is collected from an N2-Ice Lake system with 32vCPU and 128 GB RAM, 8vCPU and 32 GB RAM.

N2 VMs also supports Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). Kubernetes are container-based orchestration program that is used to scale alongside security. Many companies use the technology; at this time, it is officially supported by the upcoming Intel CPU’s. Together, they will make an excellent match for GKE node pools with minimum CPU resources.

Early preview of N2 VMs will be available in the fourth quarter this year (Q4) in the US, Europe, and SEA region. Google Cloud said the distribution process would also include their cloud regions.

Along with the features previously mentioned, there is also: Intel Crypto Acceleration engines to protect encryption-intensive workloads, 5G, VPN/firewall stress, Intel Deep Learning Boost for AI-based workload, Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel AVX-512) to boost performance through the most intensive tasks given to a computer. This workload may include data visualisation, compression, machine learning, algorithm, digital content creation, etc.


The price-performance is based on the new N2 VMs under SLA (60%), MySQL 8 (79%), AES-256 Encryption (244%), and these data are prone to change before the final release.


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