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AWS EC2 Gets an Upgrade: Much Faster EBS Storage, And 7 New Instance Types

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It’s the week of AWS’s annual reInvent 2020 Conference, and today EC2 and EBS are getting some major upgrades, with faster storage for all instances as well as 6 new EC2 instance types.

EBS Upgrades – gp3 and io2 Block Express

The underlying storage of EC2 has gotten a lot faster: both SSD based EBS volumes, general purpose and provisioned IOPS, are getting upgrades. These are likely both powered by the relatively new PCIe 4.0 standard, which brings substantial improvements over prior generation SSDs.

First, gp3, which is a generational upgrade from the standard gp2 volumes that EC2 defaults to. These still cap out at 16 TB, and provide single digit millisecond latency, but now do so with 4x higher bandwidth with up to 1000 MB/s per volume. Not only that, they are actually 20% cheaper per GB than existing gp2 volumes.

The high performance provisioned IOPS instances also get an upgrade. It’s called io2 Block Express, and is just a faster drive with a max throughput of 4000 MB/s per volume, again four times higher than before. The latency has also been improved to now be sub millisecond. The pricing is the same, but since io2 requires you to pay for “provisioned IOPS,” essentially buying speed, you’ll need to pay more for higher performance drives.

New Instance Types

Alongside new storage, a bunch of new instance types were announced.

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One of the weirdest ones is EC2 Mac Instances, which is exactly what you think, a Mac Mini in the cloud. Notably these aren’t Apple’s fancy new M1 powered Mac Minis, just the much slower Core i7 model. The point of this is to make it easy to provision and rent Mac based virtual environments for developers. There’s only the one instance type, mac1.metal, which comes with 12 cores and 32 GB of RAM.

R5b, a new series of AWS’s memory focused R5 database instances. The R5b instances can use gp3 and io2 block express volumes for much higher performance. Not much new but considering block storage is often a bottleneck for write-heavy operations, this will be a great upgrade for many people.

C6g, M6g, and R6g Instances are all based on AWS’s ARM based Graviton2 processor and support 100 Gbps networking. They’re advertised as delivering up to “40% better price performance” over x86 instances, though that is in “a large number of applications built on open-source software utilizing Linux distributions,” which is marketing speak for “it’s not 40% better at everything.” Either way, AWS’s custom silicon is very promising, and the Graviton2 chip competes well with x86 processors.

The new D3 series delivers the highest local storage capacity in the cloud. The feature faster disk speed and up to 336 TB of space, at 80% lower cost-per-TB of storage compared to D2 instances.

G4dn is a new GPU instance designed to deliver the best price to performance for graphics and machine learning models. They’re powered by up to 8 NVIDIA T4 GPUs, 96 vCPUs, 100 Gbps networking, and 1.8 TB local NVMe-based SSD storage. They’re also available as bare metal instances.

Lastly, they announce M5zn instances, which are pretty basic except having a high clock up to 4.5 GHz and 100 Gbps networking.

Anthony Heddings Anthony Heddings
Anthony Heddings is the resident cloud engineer for LifeSavvy Media, a technical writer, programmer, and an expert at Amazon's AWS platform. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and CloudSavvy IT that have been read millions of times. Read Full Bio »

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