CPU platforms

When you start a virtual machine (VM) instance on Compute Engine, the VM uses one of the CPU platforms that is available on Compute Engine. A CPU platform contains one of the available CPUs described in the following table. Compute Engine offers both Intel and AMD processors for your VMs.

Unless otherwise specified, a VM instance uses the default processor of the zone where the instance is to run. You can optionally specify another processor instead of the default processor, if another processor is available in the selected zone. For a list of zones and the available CPU processors, see Regions and zones.

On Compute Engine, each virtual CPU (vCPU) is implemented as a single hardware multithread on one of the available CPU processors. On Intel Xeon processors, Intel Hyper-Threading Technology supports multiple app threads running on each physical processor core. You configure your Compute Engine VM instances with one or more of these multithreads as vCPUs. The specific size and shape of your VM instance determines the number of its vCPUs.

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Intel CPU processors

The following table describes Intel processors that are available for Compute Engine VMs. They are listed in reverse chronological order (newest first).

CPU processor Supported VMs Base frequency (GHz) All-core turbo frequency (GHz) Single-core max turbo frequency (GHz)
Intel Xeon Scalable Processor (Ice Lake)
3rd Generation*
2.6 3.1 3.4
Intel Xeon Scalable Processor (Cascade Lake)
2nd Generation
2.8 3.4 3.9
3.1 3.8 3.9
2.5 3.4 4.0
2.2 2.9 3.7
Intel Xeon Scalable Processor (Skylake)
1st Generation
2.0 2.7 3.5
Intel Xeon E7 (Broadwell E7) 2.2 2.6 3.3
Intel Xeon E5 v4 (Broadwell E5) 2.2 2.8 3.7
Intel Xeon E5 v3 (Haswell) 2.3 2.8 3.8
Intel Xeon E5 v2 (Ivy Bridge) 2.5 3.1 3.5
Intel Xeon E5 (Sandy Bridge) 2.6 3.2 3.6

*N2 VM shapes that are larger than 80 vCPUs use the Intel Ice Lake CPU, which is in Preview.

AMD CPU processors

The following table describes AMD processors available for Compute Engine VMs:

CPU platform Supported VMs Base frequency (GHz) Effective frequency (GHz) Max boost frequency (GHz)
3rd Generation
2.45 2.8 3.5
2nd Generation
2.25 2.7 3.3

Frequency behavior

This document describes the hardware specifications of the CPUs that are available on Compute Engine, but keep the following points in mind:

  • Most VMs get the all-core turbo frequency, even if only the base frequency is advertised to the guest environment.
  • A VM's guest environment reflects the base clock frequency, regardless of what frequency the VM is actually running at.
  • C-state is only supported for C2 machines types. For other VMs, C-State or P-State is not supported at this time, so idling virtual CPUs within the guest environment might not work as expected.
  • Base clock frequency: A lower bound on CPU frequency, and the frequency at which the time stamp counter (TSC) increments.
  • All-core turbo frequency: The frequency at which each CPU typically runs when all cores in the socket are not idle at the same time.

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