Amazon Web Services (AWS) has plumbed new home-grown silicon into its data centres in a landmark move, saying instances (virtual machines to run cloud workloads) are now available based on its Graviton2 chips — unveiled with much fanfare at mega-conference Re:Invent last December.
The new “M6g” Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances will run on AWS’s Arm-based chips — designed in-house with Amazon subsidiary Annapurna Labs, using 64-bit, open architecture Arm Neoverse N1 cores. (A CPU core design roadmap aimed squarely at infrastructure deployments).
Arm-based chips offer design freedom for users, and are significantly more energy efficient than Intel’s x86 architecture; a major incentive for cloud providers which are paying hefty electricity bills, although the software ecosystem for them still remains notably smaller.
AWS CEO Andy Jassy told an audience in his keynote speech at the Las Vegas event in 2019 that users can “run virtually all your instances on this, with a 40 percent better price performance than x86 instances.”
(KeyDB, an in-memory database provider, claims that its tests showed using the Graviton2 worked out 20 percent cheaper on a per GB scale.)
The company’s Sébastien Stormacq, unveiling the instance type this week, reiterated that point, saying: “For those of you running typical open-source application stacks, generally deployed on x86-64 architectures, migrating to Graviton2-based instances will give you up to 40 percent improvement on cost-performance ratio, compared to similar-sized M5 instances. M6g instances are well-suited for workloads such as application servers, gaming servers, mid-size databases, caching fleets, web tier and the likes.”
Kudos to @awscloud on their m6g general availability. Just upgraded a couple of (convertible) reserved instances from a1 to m6g and moved the existing @fedora root volumes over – and it “just worked” 😊
— Jon Masters 🏴☠️ (@jonmasters) May 12, 2020
Graviton2: Who’ll Play with the new AWS Silicon?
As major technology firms look to diverse supplier base and customer offering, UK-based (but Japan’s SoftBank-owned) Arm has become an increasingly important part of their play; Microsoft in October 2019 announcing its first laptop (the Surface Pro X) to run full Windows 10 and apps designed for Windows 10 on an Arm processor.
Pundits have been saying Arm-based processors will be “better for power hungry data centers” for the best part of a decade, but a limited software ecosystem has proved a continued drawback.
Releasing the Graviton2 in December, Jassy said AWS had “three questions we had when we lanched A1 instances: 1) will anyone use them? 2) Will the partner ecosystem step up? 3) Can we iterate enough on this first Graviton family?”
The answer to all of those had been yes, he suggested, and Stormacq today said a wide range of Linux distributions, language runtimes, container services, agents, developer tools (AWS Code Suite, Jenkins, GitLab, Chef, Drone.io, Travis CI), and security and monitoring solutions like Datadog, Crowdstrike, Qualys, and more would run merrily on the new instance-types.
He added: “While some applications may require re-compilation, the vast majority of applications that are based on interpreted languages (such as Java, NodeJS, Python, Go) should run unmodified on M6g instances. In the rare cases where you will need to recompile or debug code, we have assembled some resources to help you to get started.”
Arm-curious AWS users in Europe can deploy M6g instances from Dublin or Frankfurt.