AWS Nitro System

A combination of dedicated hardware and lightweight hypervisor enabling faster innovation and enhanced security

The AWS Nitro System is the underlying platform for our next generation of EC2 instances that enables AWS to innovate faster, further reduce cost for our customers, and deliver added benefits like increased security and new instance types.

AWS has completely re-imagined our virtualization infrastructure. Traditionally, hypervisors protect the physical hardware and bios, virtualize the CPU, storage, networking, and provide a rich set of management capabilities. With the Nitro System, we are able to break apart those functions, offload them to dedicated hardware and software, and reduce costs by delivering practically all of the resources of a server to your instances.

With the Nitro System, we shipped nearly 3x as many new instances in 2018 versus the prior year.

Deep Dive Into AWS 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.  This innovation also leads to bare metal instances where customers can bring their own hypervisor or have no hypervisor.


The Nitro System provides enhanced security that continuously monitors, protects, and verifies the instance hardware and firmware.  Virtualization resources are offloaded to dedicated hardware and software minimizing the attack surface. Finally, Nitro System's security model is locked down and prohibits administrative access, eliminating the possibility of human error and tampering.


The Nitro System delivers practically all of the compute and memory resources of the host hardware to your instances resulting in better overall performance.  Additionally, dedicated Nitro Cards enable high speed networking, high speed EBS, and I/O acceleration.  Not having to hold back resources for management software means more savings that can be passed on to the customer.

Key Features



The Nitro Cards are a family of cards that offloads and accelerates IO for functions, ultimately increasing overall system performance.  Key cards include Nitro Card for VPC, Nitro Card for EBS, Nitro Card for Instance Storage, Nitro Card Controller, and Nitro Security Chip.



The Nitro Security Chip enables the most secure cloud platform with a minimized attack surface as virtualization and security functions are offloaded to dedicated hardware and software. Additionally, a locked down security model prohibits all administrative access, including those of Amazon employees, eliminating the possibility of human error and tampering.



The Nitro Hypervisor is a lightweight hypervisor that manages memory and CPU allocation and delivers performance that is indistinguishable from bare metal.

EC2 Instances Built on the AWS Nitro System

General Purpose

EC2 M5 Instances

Amazon EC2 M5 instances are ideal for:

  • business critical applications
  • web and application servers
  • back-end servers for enterprise applications

Learn More

Compute Optimized

EC2 C5 Instances

Amazon EC2 C5 instances are ideal for:

  • high-performance computing (HPC)
  • machine learning, deep inference, and distributed analytics
  • batch processing

Learn More

Memory Optimized

EC2 R5 Instances

Amazon EC2 R5 instances are ideal for:

  • high performance databases
  • distributed web scale in-memory caches
  • mid-size in-memory databases

Learn More

General Purpose - Burstable

EC2 T3 Instances

Amazon EC2 T3 instances are ideal for:

  • micro-services
  • low-latency interactive applications
  • small and medium databases

Learn More

Storage Optimized

EC2 I3 Instances

Amazon EC2 I3 instances are ideal for:

  • NoSQL databases
  • in-memory databases
  • data warehousing

Learn More

Scale-out and Arm

EC2 A1 Instances

Amazon EC2 A1 instances are ideal for:

  • web servers
  • containerized microservices
  • caching fleets

Learn More

Machine Learning

EC2 P3dn Instances

Amazon EC2 P3dn instances are ideal for:

  • Distributed Machine Learning
  • High-Performance Computing

Learn More

High Single Thread

EC2 z1d Instances

Amazon EC2 z1d instances are ideal for:

  • electronic design automation (EDA)
  • gaming
  • relational database workloads with high per-core licensing costs

Learn More

High In-Memory

EC2 High Memory Instances

Amazon EC2 High Memory instances are ideal for:

  • large in-memory databases

Learn More

Get started with AWS

Step 1 - Sign up for an AWS account

Sign up for an AWS account

Instantly get access to the AWS Free Tier.

Learn with 10-minute Tutorials

Explore and learn with simple tutorials.

Start building with AWS

Begin building with step-by-step guides to help you launch your AWS project.

Try Amazon EC2  for Free! 

Click here to try for free

AWS Free Tier includes 750 hours of Linux and Windows t2.micro instances each month for one year. To stay within the Free Tier, use only EC2 Micro instances. View AWS Free Tier details >>

Ready to get started?
Sign up
Have more questions?
Contact us