Amazon EBS allows you to create storage volumes and attach them to Amazon EC2 instances. Once attached, you can create a file system on top of these volumes, run a database, or use them in any other way you would use block storage. Amazon EBS volumes are placed in a specific Availability Zone, where they are automatically replicated to protect you from the failure of a single component. All EBS volume types offer durable snapshot capabilities and are designed for 99.999% availability.

Amazon EBS provides a range of options that allow you to optimize storage performance and cost for your workload. These options are divided into two major categories: SSD-backed storage for transactional workloads such as databases and boot volumes (performance depends primarily on IOPS) and HDD-backed storage for throughput intensive workloads such as MapReduce and log processing (performance depends primarily on MB/s).

SSD-backed volumes include the highest performance Provisioned IOPS SSD (io1) for latency-sensitive transactional workloads and General Purpose SSD (gp2) that balance price and performance for a wide variety of transactional data. HDD-backed volumes include Throughput Optimized HDD (st1) for frequently accessed, throughput intensive workloads and the lowest cost Cold HDD (sc1) for less frequently accessed data.

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The following table shows use cases and performance characteristics of current generation EBS volumes:

  Solid State Drives (SSD) Hard Disk Drives (HDD)
Volume Type EBS Provisioned IOPS SSD (io1) EBS General Purpose SSD (gp2)* Throughput Optimized HDD (st1) Cold HDD (sc1)

Short Description

Highest performance SSD volume designed for latency-sensitive transactional workloads

General Purpose SSD volume that balances price performance for a wide variety of transactional workloads

Low cost HDD volume designed for frequently accessed, throughput intensive workloads

Lowest cost HDD volume designed for less frequently accessed workloads

Use Cases

I/O-intensive NoSQL and relational databases

Boot volumes, low-latency interactive apps, dev & test

Big data, data warehouses, log processing

Colder data requiring fewer scans per day

API Name

io1

gp2

st1

sc1

Volume Size

4 GB - 16 TB

1 GB - 16 TB

500 GB - 16 TB

500 GB - 16 TB

Max IOPS**/Volume

20,000

10,000

500

250

Max Throughput/Volume

320 MB/s

160 MB/s

500 MB/s

250 MB/s

Max IOPS/Instance

48,000

48,000

48,000

48,000

Max Throughput/Instance

800 MB/s

800 MB/s

800 MB/s

800 MB/s

Price

$0.125/GB-month

$0.065/provisioned IOPS

$0.10/GB-month

$0.045/GB-month

$0.025/GB-month

Dominant Performance Attribute

IOPS

IOPS

MB/s

MB/s

Looking for EBS Magnetic? See the Previous Generation Volumes page.
*Default volume type
**io1/gp2 based on 16K I/O size, st1/sc1 based on 1 MB I/O size

IO1 is backed by solid-state drives (SSDs) and is the highest performance EBS storage option designed for critical, I/O intensive database and application workloads, as well as throughput-intensive database and data warehouse workloads, such as HBase, Vertica, and Cassandra. These volumes are ideal for both IOPS-intensive and throughput-intensive workloads that require extremely low latency.

IO1 is designed to deliver a consistent baseline performance of up to 50 IOPS/GB to a maximum of 20,000 IOPS and provide up to 320 MB/s of throughput per volume. To maximize the benefit of io1, we recommend using EBS-optimized EC2 instances. When attached to EBS-optimized EC2 instances, io1 can achieve single-digit millisecond latencies and is designed to deliver the provisioned performance 99.9% of the time. For more information about instance types that can be launched as EBS-optimized instances, see Amazon EC2 Instance Types. For more information about Amazon EBS performance guidelines, see Increasing EBS Performance.

GP2 is the default EBS volume type for Amazon EC2 instances. These volumes are backed by solid-state drives (SSDs) and are suitable for a broad range of transactional workloads, including dev/test environments, low-latency interactive applications, and boot volumes. GP2 is designed to offer single-digit millisecond latencies, deliver a consistent baseline performance of 3 IOPS/GB to a maximum of 10,000 IOPS, and provide up to 160 MB/s of throughput per volume. GP2 volumes smaller than 1 TB can also burst up to 3,000 IOPS. I/O is included in the price of gp2, so you pay only for each GB of storage you provision. GP2 is designed to deliver the provisioned performance 99% of the time. If you need a greater number of IOPS than gp2 can provide, or if you have a workload where low latency is critical or you need better performance consistency, we recommend that you use io1. To maximize the performance of gp2, we recommend using EBS-optimized EC2 instances.

ST1 is backed by hard disk drives (HDDs) and is ideal for frequently accessed, throughput intensive workloads with large datasets and large I/O sizes, such as MapReduce, Kafka, log processing, data warehouse, and ETL workloads. These volumes deliver performance in terms of throughput, measured in MB/s, and include the ability to burst up to 250 MB/s per TB, with a baseline throughput of 40 MB/s per TB and a maximum throughput of 500 MB/s per volume. ST1 is designed to deliver the expected throughput performance 99% of the time and has enough I/O credits to support a full-volume scan at the burst rate. To maximize the performance of st1, we recommend using EBS-optimized EC2 instances.

SC1 is backed by hard disk drives (HDDs) and provides the lowest cost per GB of all EBS volume types. It is ideal for less frequently accessed workloads with large, cold datasets. Similar to st1, sc1 provides a burst model: these volumes can burst up to 80 MB/s per TB, with a baseline throughput of 12 MB/s per TB and a maximum throughput of 250 MB/s per volume. For infrequently accessed data, sc1 provides extremely inexpensive storage. SC1 is designed to deliver the expected throughput performance 99% of the time and has enough I/O credits to support a full-volume scan at the burst rate. To maximize the performance of sc1, we recommend using EBS-optimized EC2 instances.


Amazon EBS provides the ability to save point-in-time snapshots of your volumes to Amazon S3. Amazon EBS Snapshots are stored incrementally: only the blocks that have changed after your last snapshot are saved, and you are billed only for the changed blocks. If you have a device with 100 GB of data but only 5 GB has changed after your last snapshot, a subsequent snapshot consumes only 5 additional GB and you are billed only for the additional 5 GB of snapshot storage, even though both the earlier and later snapshots appear complete.

When you delete a snapshot, you remove only the data not needed by any other snapshot. All active snapshots contain all the information needed to restore the volume to the instant at which that snapshot was taken. The time to restore changed data to the working volume is the same for all snapshots.

Snapshots can be used to instantiate multiple new volumes, expand the size of a volume, or move volumes across Availability Zones. When a new volume is created, you may choose to create it based on an existing Amazon EBS snapshot. In that scenario, the new volume begins as an exact replica of the snapshot.

The following are key features of Amazon EBS Snapshots:

  • Immediate access to Amazon EBS volume data - After a volume is created from a snapshot, there is no need to wait for all of the data to transfer from Amazon S3 to your Amazon EBS volume before your attached instance can start accessing the volume. Amazon EBS Snapshots implement lazy loading, so that you can begin using them right away.
  • Resizing Amazon EBS volumes - When you create a new Amazon EBS volume based on a snapshot, you may specify a larger size for the new volume. Make certain that your file system or application supports resizing a device.
  • Sharing Amazon EBS Snapshots - Amazon EBS Snapshots’ shareability makes it easy for you to share data with your co-workers or others in the AWS community. Authorized users can create their own Amazon EBS volumes based on your Amazon EBS shared snapshots; your original snapshot remains intact. If you choose, you can also make your data available publicly to all AWS users. For more information about how to share snapshots, see Modifying Snapshot Permissions.  
  • Copying Amazon EBS Snapshots across AWS regions - Amazon EBS’s ability to copy snapshots across AWS regions makes it easier to leverage multiple AWS regions for geographical expansion, data center migration and disaster recovery. You can copy any snapshot accessible to you: snapshots you created; snapshots shared with you; and snapshots from the AWS Marketplace, VM Import/Export, and AWS Storage Gateway. For more information, see Copying an Amazon EBS Snapshot.

For an additional low, hourly fee, customers can launch certain Amazon EC2 instance types as EBS-optimized instances. EBS-optimized instances enable EC2 instances to fully use the IOPS provisioned on an EBS volume.

EBS-optimized instances deliver dedicated throughput between Amazon EC2 and Amazon EBS, with options between 500 and 4,000 Megabits per second (Mbps) depending on the instance type used. The dedicated throughput minimizes contention between Amazon EBS I/O and other traffic from your EC2 instance, providing the best performance for your EBS volumes.

EBS-optimized instances are designed for use with all Amazon EBS volume types.

For more information about the instance types that can be launched as EBS-Optimized instances, see Amazon EC2 Instance Types.

Amazon EBS volumes are designed to be highly available and reliable. At no additional charge to you, Amazon EBS volume data is replicated across multiple servers in an Availability Zone to prevent the loss of data from the failure of any single component. For more details, see the Amazon EC2 and EBS Service Level Agreement.

Amazon EBS volumes are designed for an annual failure rate (AFR) of between 0.1% - 0.2%, where failure refers to a complete or partial loss of the volume, depending on the size and performance of the volume. This makes EBS volumes 20 times more reliable than typical commodity disk drives, which fail with an AFR of around 4%. For example, if you have 1,000 EBS volumes running for 1 year, you should expect 1 to 2 will have a failure. EBS also supports a snapshot feature, which is a good way to take point-in-time backups of your data.

To learn more about Amazon EBS Snapshots and how to take point-in time backups of your volumes please visit here.

Amazon EBS encryption offers seamless encryption of EBS data volumes, boot volumes and snapshots, eliminating the need to build and manage a secure key management infrastructure. EBS encryption enables data at rest security by encrypting your data volumes, boot volumes and snapshots using Amazon-managed keys or keys you create and manage using the AWS Key Management Service (KMS). In addition, the encryption occurs on the servers that host EC2 instances, providing encryption of data as it moves between EC2 instances and EBS data and boot volumes. For more information, see Amazon EBS encryption in the Amazon EC2 User Guide.

Access to Amazon EBS volumes is integrated with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM). IAM enables access control to your Amazon EBS volumes. For more information, see AWS Identity and Access Management.


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