Amazon Web Services (AWS) is launching an Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) powered by custom Intel Xeon Scalable processors, otherwise known as Sapphire Rapids.

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– Sebastian Moss

The processors will be made generally available through the EC2 M7i-flex and EC2 M7i instances and the company said they should provide significantly better performance than comparable x86 Intel processors.

The M7i and M7i flex reportedly have between 15-19 percent better performance compared to the M6i instances and are designed for general-purpose workloads with large instance sizes and continuous high CPU usage.

The M7i flex instances deliver a baseline of 40 percent CPU performance which can scale up to a full CPU performance, 95 percent of the time. The flex option is AWS' lower-cost variant of the M7i, and is available from large to 8× large which has 32 vCPUs and a memory of 128GB, while the M7i is offered up to 48× large, or 192 vCPU and 768GB of memory.

AWS is also preparing to launch two sizes of bare metal M7i instances, the 24xl and 48xl which will have the same performance capabilities as the top end of M7i.

Each Sapphire Rapids processor includes four built-in accelerators with hardware acceleration for different workloads including deep learning and inferencing, offloading common migration tasks, database and analytics workloads, and encryption, decryption, and compression.

The instances will be available in the US East, US West, and Europe AWS regions initially, with plans to expand throughout the year. M7i is also available in dedicated host and dedicated instance forms.

Intel's Xeon CPUs, known by the code name Sapphire Rapids, were launched in November 2022 and have been available through 2023. The processing units have around 64GB of high-bandwidth memory and 1TBps of memory bandwidth.

Microsoft tweaks licenses to be able to run Office wares in AWS

A week after European competition regulators probed Microsoft's business policies and practices, the company has made a minor concession to allow customers to run Office wares in AWS.

The adjustment partially reverses a 2019 licensing change that required customers with perpetual licenses to re-purchase them in order to run the applications on AWS, Google Cloud, or Alibaba infrastructure. This made it far cheaper to opt for using Microsft software on Azure (indefinitely) and very expensive for customers to reconsider their cloud provider.

The decision to make adjustments comes just over a month after Google accused Microsoft of anti-competitive practices in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission.

The licensing update said from Microsoft on August 1 said: "Beginning August 1, 2023, users with specific licenses may run Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise/business, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft Visio on Amazon WorkSpaces.

"The licenses that will be eligible under this revised policy include Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5 and Microsoft 365 Business Premium. If you currently have any of these licenses, starting from August 1, you will be able to utilize these Microsoft applications on Amazon WorkSpaces virtual desktop infrastructure."

While this partially resolves some complaints, the licensing tweak only benefits AWS and was described by Directions on Microsoft (DoM) analyst Wes Miller as a "very premium way to run 'Office' on WorkSpaces, partially addressing some issues with Microsoft on AWS," because you will still need a 365 E3 or E5 subscription for every user accessing 365 Apps on Workspaces, as well as the Virtual Desktop Access.

Ultimately, it is still far cheaper to just use the Azure Virtual Desktop for Microsoft's software.