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AWS unleashes custom Arm processor – the Graviton2 – in new EC2 M6g instance type

Xeon, shmeon: Netflix loves ‘em and AWS has more instance types using it coming soon

Amazon Web Services has flicked the switch for a new instance type powered by the second generation of its custom Arm CPUs – the Graviton2.

As we noted at launch, the Graviton2 is built with a 7nm process and offers 64-bit Arm Neoverse N1 CPU cores, each with 1MB of level 2 cache while each chip has 32MB of shared level 3 cache.

The newly-live instance type is the EC2 M6g and comes in eight variants that run from one to 64 vCPUs.

Instance Size vCPU Memory (GiB) Instance Storage Network Bandwidth (Gbps) EBS Bandwidth (Mbps)
m6g.medium 1 4 EBS-Only Up to 10 Up to 4,750
m6g.large 2 8 EBS-Only Up to 10 Up to 4,750
m6g.xlarge 4 16 EBS-Only Up to 10 Up to 4,750
m6g.2xlarge 8 32 EBS-Only Up to 10 Up to 4,750
m6g.4xlarge 16 64 EBS-Only Up to 10 4,750
m6g.8xlarge 32 128 EBS-Only 12 9,000
m6g.12xlarge 48 192 EBS-Only 20 13,500
m6g.16xlarge 64 256 EBS-Only 25 18,000

AWS suggests the new instance type is best-suited to “application servers, microservices, gaming servers, mid-size data stores, and caching fleets.” And it’s secured testimonials from early users including Netflix, which said ““We tested the new M6g instances using industry standard LMbench and certain Java benchmarks and saw up to 50% improvement over M5 instances.”

M5 instances run Intel Xeon Platinum 8175M CPUs.

Now AWS has its own silicon that can outperform those Xeons in some applications. And that’s with one of the wimpier instance types it has planned for the Graviton2. M-series instances are general-purpose compute rigs. The cloud colossus has also promised C-series high-performance instances and R-series memory-optimised instances that use its own silicon. More variants "with local NVMe-based SSD block-level storage will also be available in the coming months", AWS says.

While cheaper cloud servers are lovely, they’re no use if the code your business relies on can’t run on ‘em. While plenty of code runs on Arm, Intel’s ecosystem-creation efforts are extensive, few enterprise products have ported to Arm and those that have, like VMware’s ESXi, haven’t exactly found customers clamoring for the architecture . Which won’t trouble those who indulge in the bounty of open source Arm-ware or shops like Netflix content to conduct bespoke development if it’ll save some coin.

The launch of the EC2 M6g instance is therefore a notable milestone in the evolution of Arm as an enterprise platform. But the story clearly has a long way to run.

As does AWS' use of Xeons: late last week it announced a new set of price cuts for the M-series, C-series and R-series instances when bought using its Reserved Instances or EC2 Instance Saving Plans. ®

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