AWS News Blog

Amazon EC2 Update – Additional Instance Types, Nitro System, and CPU Options

I have a backlog of EC2 updates to share with you. We’ve been releasing new features and instance types at a rapid clip and it is time to catch up. Here’s a quick peek at where we are and where we are going…

Additional Instance Types
Here’s a quick recap of the most recent EC2 instance type announcements:

Compute-Intensive – The compute-intensive C5d instances provide a 25% to 50% performance improvement over the C4 instances. They are available in 5 regions and offer up to 72 vCPUs, 144 GiB of memory, and 1.8 TB of local NVMe storage.

General Purpose – The general purpose M5d instances are also available in 5 regions. They offer up to 96 vCPUs, 384 GiB of memory, and 3.6 TB of local NVMe storage.

Bare Metal – The i3.metal instances became generally available in 5 regions a couple of weeks ago. You can run performance analysis tools that are hardware-dependent, workloads that require direct access to bare-metal infrastructure, applications that need to run in non-virtualized environments for licensing or support reasons, and container environments such as Clear Containers, while you take advantage of AWS features such as Elastic Block Store (EBS), Elastic Load Balancing, and Virtual Private Clouds. Bare metal instances with 6 TB, 9 TB, 12 TB, and more memory are in the works, all designed specifically for SAP HANA and other in-memory workloads.

Innovation and the Nitro System
The Nitro system is a rich collection of building blocks that can be assembled in many different ways, giving us the flexibility to design and rapidly deliver EC2 instance types with an ever-broadening selection of compute, storage, memory, and networking options. We will deliver new instance types more quickly than ever in the months to come, with the goal of helping you to build, migrate, and run even more types of workloads.

Local NVMe Storage – The new C5d, M5d, and bare metal EC2 instances feature our Nitro local NVMe storage building block, which is also used in the Xen-virtualized I3 and F1 instances. This building block provides direct access to high-speed local storage over a PCI interface and transparently encrypts all data using dedicated hardware. It also provides hardware-level isolation between storage devices and EC2 instances so that bare metal instances can benefit from local NVMe storage.

Nitro Security Chip – A component that is part of our AWS server designs that continuously monitors and protects hardware resources and independently verifies firmware each time a system boots.

Nitro Hypervisor – A thin, quiescent hypervisor that manages memory and CPU allocation, and delivers performance that is indistinguishable from bare metal for most workloads (Brendan Gregg of Netflix benchmarked it at less than 1%).

Networking – Hardware support for the software defined network inside of each Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Enhanced Networking, and Elastic Network Adapter.

Elastic Block Storage – Hardware EBS processing including CPU-intensive cryptographic operations.

Moving storage, networking, and security functions to hardware has important consequences for both bare metal and virtualized instance types:

Virtualized instances can make just about all of the host’s CPU power and memory available to the guest operating systems since the hypervisor plays a greatly diminished role.

Bare metal instances have full access to the hardware, but also have the same the flexibility and feature set as virtualized EC2 instances including CloudWatch metrics, EBS, and VPC.

To learn more about the hardware and software that make up the Nitro system, watch Amazon EC2 Bare Metal Instances or C5 Instances and the Evolution of Amazon EC2 Virtualization and take a look at The Nitro Project: Next-Generation EC2 Infrastructure.

CPU Options
This feature provides you with additional control over your EC2 instances and lets you optimize your instance for a particular workload. First, you can specify the desired number of vCPUs at launch time. This allows you to control the vCPU to memory ratio for Oracle and SQL Server workloads that need high memory, storage, and I/O but perform well with a low vCPU count. As a result, you can optimize your vCPU-based licensing costs when you Bring Your Own License (BYOL). Second, you can disable Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology (Intel® HT Technology) on instances that run compute-intensive workloads. These workloads sometimes exhibit diminished performance when Intel HT is enabled. Both of these options are available when you launch an instance using the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) or one of the AWS SDKs. You simply specify the total number of cores and the number of threads per core using values chosen from the CPU Cores and Threads per CPU Core Per Instance Type table. Here’s how you would launch an instance with 6 CPU cores and Intel® HT Technology disabled:

$ aws ec2 run-instances --image-id ami-1a2b3c4d --instance-type r4.4xlarge --cpu-options "CoreCount=6,ThreadsPerCore=1"

To learn more, read about Optimizing CPU Options.

Help Wanted
The EC2 team is always hiring! Here are a few of their open positions:

Jeff;

Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr is Chief Evangelist for AWS. He started this blog in 2004 and has been writing posts just about non-stop ever since.