AWS EC2 Instances Types

AWS offers nearly fifty different types of EC2 instances. It also provides a number of different categories of images, each tailored for different use cases.

Choice is a good thing, and having so many EC2 instance types and categories is a benefit to users. But with so many possibilities, deciding which EC2 instance is the best fit for your needs can be a challenge.

If you’re struggling to decide which EC2 instance to use, this article is for you. It outlines the major EC2 instance types and categories and makes recommendations about which instances are the best fit for certain types of situations.

General Purpose

T2

T2 instances are general purpose instances and are suitable for light weight Websites and web applications, development environments, build servers, code repositories, micro services, test and staging environments. T2 instances can burst above baseline level of CPU performance and their Ability to burst above baseline is governed by CPU credits.T2 instances receive CPU Credits continuously at a set rate (depending on the instance size) when they are idle and consume CPU credits when they are active. T2 Instances are mostly suitable for testing environment.

Features

  • High frequency Intel Xeon processors.

  • Burstable CPU, governed by CPU Credits, and consistent baseline performance.

  • Lowest-cost general purpose instance type, and Free Tier eligible.

  • Balance of compute, memory, and network resources.

M5

M5 instances are the latest generation of Memory Optimized General Purpose Instances. This family provides a balance of compute, memory, and network resources, and it is a good choice for many applications services like – Small and mid-size databases, data processing tasks that require additional memory, caching fleets, and for running backend servers for SAP, Microsoft SharePoint, cluster computing, and other enterprise applications.

Features

  • 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon® Platinum 8175 processors with new Intel Advanced Vector Extension (AXV-512) instruction set.

  • New larger instance size, m5.24xlarge, offering 96 vCPUs and 384 GiB of memory.

  • EBS-optimized by default and higher EBS performance on smaller instance sizes.

  • Up to 25 Gbps network bandwidth using Enhanced Networking.

  • Requires HVM AMIs that includes drivers for ENA and NVMe.

  • Powered by the new light-weight Nitro system, a combination of dedicated hardware and lightweight hypervisor.

M4

M4 instances provide a balance of compute, memory, and network resources, and it is a good choice for many applications and services like – Small and mid-size databases, data processing tasks that require additional memory, caching fleets, and for running backend servers for SAP, Microsoft SharePoint, cluster computing, and other enterprise applications.

Features

  • 2.3 GHz Intel Xeon® E5-2686 v4 (Broadwell) processors or 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon® E5-2676 v3 (Haswell) processors.

  • EBS-optimized by default at no additional cost.

  • Support for Enhanced Networking.

  • Balance of compute, memory, and network resources.

M3

This family includes the M3 instance types and provides a balance of compute, memory, and network resources, and it is a good choice for many applications.

Features

  • High frequency Intel Xeon E5-2670 v2 (Ivy Bridge) processors.

  • SSD-based instance storage for fast I/O performance.

  • Balance of compute, memory, and network resources.

Compute Optimized

C5

C5 instances are optimized for compute-intensive workloads and deliver very cost-effective high performance at a low price per compute ratio. It is best fit for High performance web servers, scientific modeling, batch processing, distributed analytics, high-performance computing (HPC), machine/deep learning inference, ad serving, highly scalable multiplayer gaming, and video encoding.

Features

  • 3.0 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum processors with new Intel Advanced Vector Extension 512 (AVX-512) instruction set.

  • Run each core at up to 3.5 GHz using Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

  • New larger instance size, c5.18xlarge, offering 72 vCPUs and 144 GiB of memory.

  • Up to 25 Gbps of network bandwidth using Elastic Network Adapter (ENA)-based Enhanced Networking.

  • EBS optimized by default<./p>

  • Requires HVM AMIs that include drivers for ENA and NVMe.

C4

C4 instances are optimized for compute-intensive workloads and deliver very cost-effective high performance at a low price per compute ratio. It is good choice for High performance front-end fleets, web-servers, batch processing, distributed analytics, high performance science and engineering applications, ad serving, MMO gaming, and video-encoding.

Features

  • High frequency Intel Xeon E5-2666 v3 (Haswell) processors optimized specifically for EC2.

  • Default EBS-optimized for increased storage performance at no additional cost.

  • Higher networking performance with Enhanced Networking supporting Intel 82599 VF.

  • Requires Amazon VPC, Amazon EBS and 64-bit HVM AMIs.

C3

C3 instances are optimized for compute-intensive workloads and delivers very cost-effective high performance with fast local SSD-based storage, and are great for high performance computing, batch processing, and 3D rendering and simulations.

Features

  • High Frequency Intel Xeon E5-2680 v2 (Ivy Bridge) processors.

  • Local SSD-backed instance storage, with EBS optimization available for low additional fee.

  • Support Enhanded Networking when used in Amazon VPCs and HVM AMIs.

Memory Optimized

X1e

X1e instances are optimized for high-performance databases, in-memory databases and other memory intensive enterprise applications. X1e instances offer one of the lowest price per GiB of RAM among Amazon EC2 instance types. It is good choice for High performance databases, in-memory databases (e.g. SAP HANA) and memory intensive applications. x1e.32xlarge instance certified by SAP to run next-generation Business Suite S/4HANA, Business Suite on HANA (SoH), Business Warehouse on HANA (BW), and Data Mart Solutions on HANA on the AWS cloud.

Features

  • High frequency Intel Xeon E7-8880 v3 (Haswell) processors.

  • One of the lowest price per GiB of RAM.

  • Up to 3,904 GiB of DRAM-based instance memory.

  • SSD storage and EBS-optimized by default and at no additional cost.

  • Ability to control processor C-state and P-state configurations on x1e.32xlarge, x1e.16xlarge and x1e.8xlarge instances.

X1

X1 instances are optimized for large-scale, enterprise-class and in-memory applications, and offer one of the lowest price per GiB of RAM among Amazon EC2 instance types. It is a good choice for In-memory databases (e.g. SAP HANA), big data processing engines (e.g. Apache Spark or Presto), and high performance computing (HPC). Certified by SAP to run Business Warehouse on HANA (BW), Data Mart Solutions on HANA, Business Suite on HANA (SoH), Business Suite S/4HANA.

Features

  • High frequency Intel Xeon E7-8880 v3 (Haswell) processors.

  • One of the lowest price per GiB of RAM.

  • Up to 1,952 GiB of DRAM-based instance memory.

  • SSD storage and EBS-optimized by default and at no additional cost.

  • Ability to control processor C-state and P-state configuration.

R4

R4 instances are optimized for memory-intensive applications and offer better price per GiB of RAM than R3. It is best fit for High performance databases, data mining & analysis, in-memory databases, distributed web scale in-memory caches, applications performing real-time processing of unstructured big data, Hadoop/Spark clusters, and other enterprise applications.

Features

  • High Frequency Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 (Broadwell) processors.

  • DDR4 Memory.

  • Support for Enhanced Networking.

R3

R3 instances are optimized for memory-intensive applications and offer lower price per GiB of RAM. It is recommended for high performance databases, distributed memory caches, in-memory analytics, genome assembly and analysis, Microsoft SharePoint, and other enterprise applications.

Features

  • High Frequency Intel Xeon E5-2670 v2 (Ivy Bridge) Processors.

  • SSD Storage.

  • Support for Enhanced Networking.

Accelerated Computing

P3

P3 instances are the latest generation of general purpose GPU instances. It is recommended for Machine/Deep learning, high performance computing, computational fluid dynamics, computational finance, seismic analysis, speech recognition, autonomous vehicles, and drug discovery.

Features

  • Up to 8 NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs, each pairing 5,120 CUDA Cores and 640 Tensor Cores.

  • High frequency Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 (Broadwell) processors.

  • Supports NVLink for peer-to-peer GPU communication.

  • Provide Enhanced Networking using Elastic Network Adapter with up to 25 Gbps of aggregate network bandwidth within a Placement Group.

P2

P2 instances are intended for general-purpose GPU compute applications. It is recommended for Machine learning, high performance databases, computational fluid dynamics, computational finance, seismic analysis, molecular modeling, genomics, rendering, and other server-side GPU compute workloads.

Features

  • High frequency Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 (Broadwell) processors.

  • High-performance NVIDIA K80 GPUs, each with 2,496 parallel processing cores and 12GiB of GPU memory.

  • Supports GPUDirect™ for peer-to-peer GPU communications.

  • Provides Enhanced Networking using Elastic Network Adapter (ENA) with up to 25 Gbps of aggregate network bandwidth within a Placement Group.

  • EBS-optimized by default at no additional cost.

G3

G3 instances are optimized for graphics-intensive applications. It’s a best fit for 3D visualizations, graphics-intensive remote workstation, 3D rendering, application streaming, video encoding, and other server-side graphics workloads.

Features

  • High frequency Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 (Broadwell) processors.

  • NVIDIA Tesla M60 GPUs, each with 2048 parallel processing cores and 8GiB of video memory.

  • Enables NVIDIA GRID Virtual Workstation features, including support for 4 monitors with resolutions up to 4096×2160. Each GPU included in your instance is licensed for one “Concurrent Connected User”.

  • Each GPU features an on-board hardware video encoder designed to support up to 10 H.265 (HEVC) 1080p30 streams and up to 18 H.264 1080p30 streams, enabling low-latency frame capture and encoding, and high-quality interactive streaming experiences.

  • Enhanced Networking using the Elastic Network Adapter (ENA) with 25 Gbps of aggregate network bandwidth within a Placement Group.

F1

F1 instances offer customizable hardware acceleration with field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). It is recommended for Genomics research, financial analytics, real-time video processing, big data search and analysis, and security.

Instances Features

  • High frequency Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 (Broadwell) processors.

  • NVMe SSD Storage.

  • Support for Enhanced Networking.

FPGA Features

  • Xilinx Virtex UltraScale+ VU9P FPGAs.

  • 64 GiB of ECC-protected memory on 4x DDR4.

  • Dedicated PCI-Express x16 interface.

  • Approximately 2.5 million logic elements.

  • Approximately 6,800 Digital Signal Processing (DSP) engines.

  • FPGA Developer AMI.

Storage Optimized

H1

H1 instances feature up to 16 TB of HDD-based local storage, deliver high disk throughput, and a balance of compute and memory. It’s a best fit for MapReduce-based workloads, distributed file systems such as HDFS and MapR-FS, network file systems, log or data processing applications such as Apache Kafka, and big data workload clusters.

Features

  • Powered by 2.3 GHz Intel® Xeon® E5 2686 v4 processors (codenamed Broadwell).

  • Up to 16TB of HDD storage.

  • High disk throughput.

  • ENA enabled Enhanced Networking up to 25 Gbps.

I3

This instance family provides Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) SSD-backed Instance storage optimized for low latency, very high random I/O performance, high sequential read throughput and provide high IOPS at a low cost. I3 instances offer the Bare Metal instance type (i3.metal), in preview, for non-virtualized workloads, workloads that benefit from access to physical resources such as hypervisors or Clear Containers, and custom and business critical applications that have license restrictions.

Features

  • High Frequency Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 (Broadwell) Processors with base frequency of 2.3 GHz.

  • Up to 25 Gbps of network bandwidth using Elastic Network Adapter (ENA)-based Enhanced Networking.

  • High Random I/O performance and High Sequential Read throughput.

  • Support Bare Metal instance type (Preview) for workloads that will benefit from direct access to physical processors and memory.

D2

D2 instances feature up to 48 TB of HDD-based local storage, deliver high disk throughput, and offer the lowest price per disk throughput performance on Amazon EC2. It is recommended for Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) data warehousing, MapReduce and Hadoop distributed computing, distributed file systems, network file systems, log or data-processing applications.

Features

  • High-frequency Intel Xeon E5-2676 v3 (Haswell) processors.

  • HDD storage.

  • Consistent high performance at launch time.

  • High disk throughput.

  • Support for Enhanced Networking.

Conclusion

No matter what type of workload you want to host on EC2 — whether it’s a traditional Web application, a high-performance database, a custom data analytic tool or virtually anything else, there’s an EC2 instance to support it. Finding the best EC2 instance for your needs is as simple as understanding the different categories of EC2 instances, then identifying which special features, such as burstable performance or solid-state storage, you might want.

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