Amazon (AMZN) today introduced High-CPU services on its EC2 utility computing platform, offering additional horsepower for customers with "compute-intensive" applications such as rendering and search indexing. The new plans allow developers to apply up to 20 EC2 Compute units (8 virtual cores with 2.5 EC2 Compute Units each) at a cost of 80 cents per instance hour for a large instance.
Who might benefit from this additional horsepower? Amazon's announcement notes that its High-CPU services would be useful for search indexing. One of Amazon's high-profile customers is Powerset, the semantic search startup that has used Amazon's platform to build its web indices, allowing it to rent CPUs instead of buying server hardware to provide the industrial-strength infrastructure to build an index. TechCrunch recently noted that the largest users of Amazon Web Services are not startups but large banks and phamaceutical companies with large volumes of data to crunch.
Amazon EC2 allows customers to rent computer resources in Amazon data centers to run applications. EC2 allows scalable deployment of applications by providing a web services interface through which customers can request Virtual Machines (server instances) on which they can load any software of their choice.
Usage of Amazon Web Services has surged in recent months, as bandwidth used by the company's utility hosting platform has surpassed the data transfer for Amazon's global retail sites. Amazon has lowered prices for data transfer on its utility platform, initiating a new pricing tier for the heaviest users.