AWS Compute Blog

Making your Go workloads up to 20% faster with Go 1.18 and AWS Graviton

This blog post was written by Syl Taylor, Professional Services Consultant.

In March 2022, the highly anticipated Go 1.18 was released. Go 1.18 brings to the language some long-awaited features and additions, such as generics. It also brings significant performance improvements for Arm’s 64-bit architecture used in AWS Graviton server processors. In this post, we show how migrating Go workloads from Go 1.17.8 to Go 1.18 can help you run your applications up to 20% faster and more cost-effectively. To achieve this goal, we selected a series of realistic and relatable workloads to showcase how they perform when compiled with Go 1.18.


Go is an open-source programming language which can be used to create a wide range of applications. It’s developer-friendly and suitable for designing production-grade workloads in areas such as web development, distributed systems, and cloud-native software.

AWS Graviton2 processors are custom-built by AWS using 64-bit Arm Neoverse cores to deliver the best price-performance for your cloud workloads running in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). They provide up to 40% better price/performance over comparable x86-based instances for a wide variety of workloads and they can run numerous applications, including those written in Go.

Web service throughput

For web applications, the number of HTTP requests that a server can process in a window of time is an important measurement to determine scalability needs and reduce costs.

To demonstrate the performance improvements for a Go-based web service, we selected the popular Caddy web server. To perform the load testing, we selected the hey application, which was also written in Go. We deployed these packages in a client/server scenario on m6g Graviton instances.

Relative performance comparison for requesting a static webpage

The Caddy web server compiled with Go 1.18 brings a 7-8% throughput improvement as compared with the variant compiled with Go 1.17.8.

We conducted a second test where the client downloads a dynamic page on which the request handler performs some additional processing to write the HTTP response content. The performance gains were also noticeable at 10-11%.

Relative performance comparison for requesting a dynamic webpage

Regular expression searches

Searching through large amounts of text is where regular expression patterns excel. They can be used for many use cases, such as:

  • Checking if a string has a valid format (e.g., email address, domain name, IP address),
  • Finding all of the occurrences of a string (e.g., date) in a text document,
  • Identifying a string and replacing it with another.

However, despite their efficiency in search engines, text editors, or log parsers, regular expression evaluation is an expensive operation to run. We recommend identifying optimizations to reduce search time and compute costs.

The following example uses the Go regexp package to compile a pattern and search for the presence of a standard date format in a large generated string. We observed a 13.5% increase in completed executions with a 12% reduction in execution time.

Relative performance comparison for using regular expressions to check that a pattern exists

In a second example, we used the Go regexp package to find all of the occurrences of a pattern for character sequences in a string, and then replace them with a single character. We observed a 12% increase in evaluation rate with an 11% reduction in execution time.

Relative performance comparison for using regular expressions to find and replace all of the occurrences of a pattern

As with most workloads, the improvements will vary depending on the input data, the hardware selected, and the software stack installed. Furthermore, with this use case, the regular expression usage will have an impact on the overall performance. Given the importance of regex patterns in modern applications, as well as the scale at which they’re used, we recommend upgrading to Go 1.18 for any software that relies heavily on regular expression operations.

Database storage engines

Many database storage engines use a key-value store design to benefit from simplicity of use, faster speed, and improved horizontal scalability. Two implementations commonly used are B-trees and LSM (log-structured merge) trees. In the age of cloud technology, building distributed applications that leverage a suitable database service is important to make sure that you maximize your business outcomes.

B-trees are seen in many database management systems (DBMS), and they’re used to efficiently perform queries using indexes. When we tested a sample program for inserting and deleting in a large B-tree structure, we observed a 10.5% throughput increase with a 10% reduction in execution time.

Relative performance comparison for inserting and deleting in a B-Tree structure

On the other hand, LSM trees can achieve high rates of write throughput, thus making them useful for big data or time series events, such as metrics and real-time analytics. They’re used in modern applications due to their ability to handle large write workloads in a time of rapid data growth. The following are examples of databases that use LSM trees:

  • InfluxDB is a powerful database used for high-speed read and writes on time series data. It’s written in Go and its storage engine uses a variation of LSM called the Time-Structured Merge Tree (TSM).
  • CockroachDB is a popular distributed SQL database written in Go with its own LSM tree implementation.
  • Badger is written in Go and is the engine behind Dgraph, a graph database. Its design leverages LSM trees.

When we tested an LSM tree sample program, we observed a 13.5% throughput increase with a 9.5% reduction in execution time.

We also tested InfluxDB using comparison benchmarks to analyze writes and reads to the database server. On the load stress test, we saw a 10% increase of insertion throughput and a 14.5% faster rate when querying at a large scale.

Relative performance comparison for inserting to and querying from an InfluxDB database

In summary, for databases with an engine written in Go, you’ll likely observe better performance when upgrading to a version that has been compiled with Go 1.18.

Machine learning training

A popular unsupervised machine learning (ML) algorithm is K-Means clustering. It aims to group similar data points into k clusters. We used a dataset of 2D coordinates to train K-Means and obtain the cluster distribution in a deterministic manner. The example program uses an OOP design. We noticed an 18% improvement in execution throughput and a 15% reduction in execution time.

Relative performance comparison for training a K-means model

A widely-used and supervised ML algorithm for both classification and regression is Random Forest. It’s composed of numerous individual decision trees, and it uses a voting mechanism to determine which prediction to use. It’s a powerful method for optimizing ML models.

We ran a deterministic example to train a dense Random Forest. The program uses an OOP design and we noted a 20% improvement in execution throughput and a 15% reduction in execution time.

Relative performance comparison for training a Random Forest model


An efficient, general-purpose method for sorting data is the merge sort algorithm. It works by repeatedly breaking down the data into parts until it can compare single units to each other. Then, it decides their order in the intermediary steps that will merge repeatedly until the final sorted result. To implement this divide-and-conquer approach, merge sort must use recursion. We ran the program using a large dataset of numbers and observed a 7% improvement in execution throughput and a 4.5% reduction in execution time.

Relative performance comparison for running a merge sort algorithm

Depth-first search (DFS) is a fundamental recursive algorithm for traversing tree or graph data structures. Many complex applications rely on DFS variants to solve or optimize hard problems in various areas, such as path finding, scheduling, or circuit design. We implemented a standard DFS traversal in a fully-connected graph. Then we observed a 14.5% improvement in execution throughput and a 13% reduction in execution time.

Relative performance comparison for running a DFS algorithm


In this post, we’ve shown that a variety of applications, not just those primarily compute-bound, can benefit from the 64-bit Arm CPU performance improvements released in Go 1.18. Programs with an object-oriented design, recursion, or that have many function calls in their implementation will likely benefit more from the new register ABI calling convention.

By using AWS Graviton EC2 instances, you can benefit from up to a 40% price/performance improvement over other instance types. Furthermore, you can save even more with Graviton through the additional performance improvements by simply recompiling your Go applications with Go 1.18.

To learn more about Graviton, see the Getting started with AWS Graviton guide.