AWS announces new generation of x86-based compute instances

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Amazon Web Services is adding a new generation of Intel x86-based compute options to its series of general-purpose EC2 compute instances. The new Amazon EC2 M6i instances the company announced should give users a better balance of network resources, storage, memory and compute.

The instances are built on the AWS Nitro System, which combines dedicated hardware and a lightweight hypervisor that offloads traditional virtualization functions, to make sure instances are more available with better performance.

The EC2 M6i instances are powered by Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs, the chipmaker’s latest offerings dubbed Ice Lake.

What the changes mean

The Ice Lake CPUs are meant to power workloads that depend on x86 instructions. They deliver an all-core turbo frequency of 3.5GHz, which should provide a 15% price-performance boost over the previous 5th generation instances.

AWS Chief Evangelist Danilo Poccia wrote a blog post saying that the “i” suffix is now being used by the company to refer to instances based on Intel processors. The company is using “a” to denote AMD processors in its M5a instances. The “g” suffix refers to Graviton instances that rely on Amazon’s Arm-based architecture, like in the M6g instances.

What the new workhorses deliver

Poccia added that the M6i instances serve as the new high-performance offerings to power various general-purpose computing workloads.

Examples of such use cases include web and app servers containerized applications, SharePoint and MySQL, Microsoft Exchange, small data store, microservices, SQL Server and PostgreSQL databases, and even some higher-performance workloads like computational fluid dynamics.

Mi6 instances are also SAP-certified and after comparing them with older M5 instances, have shown a 15% compute price/performance increase, up to 20% more memory bandwidth, and speeds that can hit 40 Gbps for Amazon Block Store and 50Gbps for networking.