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AWS teases mysterious mil-spec 'Snowblade' server

June 7, 2023 - Amazon Web Services has announced a new member of its "Snow" family of on-prem hardware – but the specs of the machine appear not to be available to eyes outside the US military.


AWS announced the "Snowblade" on Tuesday, revealing it's a "portable, compact 5U, half-rack width form-factor" that can offer up to 208 vCPUs running "AWS compute, storage, and other hybrid services in remote locations, including Denied, Disrupted, Intermittent, and Limited (DDIL) environments."


The boxes can run Amazon EC2, AWS IAM, AWS CloudTrail, AWS IoT Greengrass, AWS Deep Learning AMIs, Amazon Sagemaker Neo, and AWS DataSync.


The device meets the US military's MIL-STD-810H Ruggedization Standards, meaning it can handle extreme temperatures, vibrations, and shocks.


The cloud colossus's brief description also lauds the Snowblade as "the densest compute device of the AWS Snow Family allowing Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) customers to run demanding workloads in space, weight, and power (SWaP) constrained edge locations."


The AWS announcement links to more information about Snowblade housed on its JWCC pages – and there be dragons. Your correspondent's civilian-grade AWS account was unable to access JWCC resources, and attempts to do so produced a page stating "It looks like you attempted to log into to the website without a Department of Defense (DoD) Common Access Card (CAC)."


But the AWS Snow Family page offers some hints about what might be inside the Snowblade with its listing for the Snowball Edge Compute Optimized appliance. That device can run up to 104 vCPUS, packs 28TB of storage, and 416GB of memory. The Snowball Edge can be clustered too. So perhaps AWS has used smaller servers – which aren't hard to find – glommed a pair of Snowball Edge Compute Optimized boxen together into a single logical unit, painted it khaki, and run it up the flagpole to see if any US military customers will salute.


The Register asked AWS if it can reveal any more about the Snowblade as we're curious about what's inside, and also because the ability to run bits of the Amazonian cloud in connectivity-challenged circumstances is a capability other AWS customers might fancy.


The company told us it has nothing more to share due to the sensitive nature of the device. ®


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