Two New EC2 Instance Types Announced at AWS re:Invent 2018 – Monday Night Live

The announcements at re:Invent just keep on coming! Let’s look at what benefits these two new EC2 instance types offer and how these two new instances could be of benefit to you. If you’re not too familiar with Amazon EC2, you might want to familiarize yourself by creating your first Amazon EC2 Instance on Windows or on Linux. Alternatively, you can also view our on-demand webinar that will help you understand different types of AWS EC2 Instances.

Both of the new instance types are built on the AWS Nitro System. The AWS Nitro System improves the performance of processing in virtualized environments by off-loading virtualization functions to dedicated hardware and software. By off-loading this processing overhead, the AWS Nitro System can deliver better performance in virtualization processing.  

The first new instance is the EC2 A1 which runs on the ARM-based Graviton processor. This instance type is interesting as the majority of cloud computing services are run on Intel and AMD chips.

The main benefit of the EC2 A1 instance type is cost efficiency. ARM processors generally use less power,  which is why you see the ARM processor used extensively in smartphones and tablets. By using the ARM processor, the A1 instance can provide high-performance processing at a reduced operating cost.

What that means is the A1 is potentially a cheaper alternative to using a T2 or M5 instance type. The a1.2xlarge delivering 8 vcpu with up to 10Gbps networking runs at $0.204 per hour  – compared to the t2.2xlarge which currently costs $0.3712 per hour or the m5.2xlarge which costs $0.384 per hour. The a1.2xlarge provides less memory but potentially better performance than the t2.2xlarge as it provides up to 10Gbs network support and runs on the AWS Nitro System.

If network and memory performance are both must haves then we could also consider running the t3.2xlarge which also runs on AWS Nitro System and currently costs $0.3328 per hour. The a1.2xlarge certainly presents a good price for 10Gbps.

First question for me was – will we need to refactor an application to run on the ARM processor? Here is how I understand the AWS messaging. If your app is written in a scripting language, then your app should run on an EC2 A1 instance without need for refactoring. Applications written in Python, Perl, PHP, Ruby, NodeJS or Java should run ok and will benefit from the A1 Instance as those script runtimes are designed to run on multi processor environments.  If you have a native code application, then most likely you will need to refactor it to run on an A1 instance. I think the A1 will appeal where you have web applications running in  groups that scale out frequently. AWS A1 AMI’s are currently available for Ubuntu, Amazon Linux 2 and RHEL – as always check back on the AWS site for the latest AMI’s, specs and pricing.

Major benefit: Cost – the re:Invent announcement implied that EC2 A1 instances can make running a web server up to 45% cheaper than other instance types.

Use case:  Microservices running in containers, web server fleets, caching or dev environments where you want to run a number of small instances that need to scale out quickly.

The EC2 C5n Instance was the second new instance type announced as general release.  The EC2 C5n runs on the Skylake Xeon® scalable processor from Intel®. The EC2 C5n instance type is built on the AWS Nitro System and as is optimized for optimal network performance. What this means is the EC2 C5n can deliver you more networking bandwidth across all instance sizes. The smaller instance sizes can deliver up to 25 Gbps of peak bandwidth, the c5n.9 xlarge up to 50 Gbps and the c5n.18 xlarge can deliver up to an incredible 100 Gbps of network bandwidth. Incredible! Check back on the AWS site the latest sizes, specs and pricing.  

Major Benefit: Network performance.

User cases: Applications that need the best possible network throughput eg analytics, ML, Big Data.


My Takeaways:

  • With up to 100 Gbps network performance the EC2 C5n provides another option for improving performance on network bound apps.  
  • The A1 instance is a cost efficient option for script based web apps.

Are you at re:Invent this week? Visit the Cloud Academy team at Booth #1809 to talk with our team and learn how we can transform your organization’s cloud training. 


Cloud Academy