Q: How do I create an A8 or A9 IaaS virtual machine?

A: The very large A8 and A9 virtual machines are now available for general Microsoft Azure IaaS use; however, remember that these are very large virtual machines designed for high-performance computing. They're not only very large in terms of processor and memory but they also have advanced networking capabilities designed specifically to enable HPC communications, including a 10Gbps network connection and a 40Gbps RDMA connection (for applications using the Microsoft Network Direct interface). The drivers are available via the Azure VM Agent and the HpcVmDrivers extension, as the Windows HPC Team blog post "Extending High Performance Capabilities for Microsoft Azure" explains. 

The A8 and A9 virtual machines also run on the new class of servers in the data center using Intel Xeon E5-2670 processors. For full details about A8 and A9 instances, see the "About the A8 and A9 Compute Intensive Instances" web page. Note that the A8 and A9 instances are currently available only in certain Azure data centers (i.e., East and West United States, Western Europe, and Japan East at publication time).

The A8 and A9 currently can't be created using the portal but can be created using PowerShell, as shown in the following code. Make sure you have the latest version of the PowerShell module. In addition, make sure your default storage account for your subscription is in the same region where you're creating the virtual machine (which is set as part of the Set-AzureSubscription command, using the -CurrentStorageAccount parameter). In the following script, I also included the little bit of PowerShell code that I use to easily find the Windows Server 2012 R2 images.

#Find the 2012 R2 images and place in a new array called 2012R2imgs
$images = Get-AzureVMImage
$2012R2imgs = @() #Create array of objects
foreach ($image in $images)
  if ($image.Label.Contains("Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter"))
    $2012R2imgs += $image

$admin = "localadmin"
$myPwd = "V3ryHardTh!ngT0Gue33"

#Create Big VM using the latest 2012 R2 image
New-AzureQuickVM -windows –ServiceName SavTechEastUS -name TSTA9VM -imagename $2012R2imgs[1].ImageName -instancesize A9 –AdminUserName $admin –password $mypwd

Remember that A8 and A9 virtual machines cost a lot—so if you're just playing around, remember to deprovision the machine (shut down from the portal, not just within the OS) so that you aren't charged. Note that you can't add an A8 or A9 virtual machine to an existing virtual network or affinity group because the A8 and A9 use a completely new stack of servers. This also means you can't add non-A8/A9 virtual machines to an affinity group containing A8/A9 virtual machines. You need to use a regional network to link A8/A9 with other virtual machines. The following figure shows my A9 virtual machine running for the few seconds before I deleted it. By default, your subscription allows only 20 cores; you'll need to call Microsoft Support to increase the core quota.