AWS launches C5 instances for EC2 alongside new 'cloud-optimised' hypervisor

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the availability of C5 instances, aimed at more compute-intensive workloads for the EC2 cloud.

The C5 instances – three from the sharp end in Amazon’s compute class, behind G2, P2 and F1 – were introduced as the newest iteration back in November last year at the company’s Re:Invent show. The C5 promises 3.0 GHz Intel Xeon Scalable processors and double the vCPU and memory capacity – up to 72 vCPUs and 144 gibibytes of memory – when compared with previous C4 instances.

Applications the C5 instances are better equipped to handle include batch processing, distributed analytics, high performance computing (HPC), ad serving, video encoding, and multiplayer gaming. The instances will be available in three regions; US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), and EU (Ireland), with support for additional regions in the pipeline.

Alongside this, AWS dropped a few customer names into the mix. One customer is particularly well-known – having been analysed by this publication on several occasions – and is arguably the poster child for AWS itself. Netflix said it saw up to a 140% performance improvement in industry standard CPU benchmarks compared with C4.

For the high performance computing side, Alces Flight offers researchers on demand HPC clusters, or ‘self-service supercomputers’ in minutes. The company, a member of the AWS Marketplace, said C5 had a ‘direct benefit’ for its user base ‘on both price and performance dimensions.’

The press materials also made mention of a new hypervisor which AWS is rolling out for C5 instances to ‘allow applications to use practically all of the compute and memory resources of a server, delivering reduced cost and even better performance.’

According to this page, accessed by CloudTech earlier today (screenshot), and first spotted by The Register, the new hypervisor for Amazon EC2 “is built on core Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) technology, but does not include general purpose operating system components.”

KVM’s best known user in this sphere is Google. In January this year, the search giant issued a blog post advocating seven methods they use to security harden the KVM hypervisor. As Ariel Maislos, CEO of Stratoscale, pointed out in this publication last year, AWS has long been partnered with Xen for its hypervisor needs.

The FAQ page added that all new instance types will ‘eventually’ use the new EC2 hypervisor, but for now some new instance types will use Xen ‘depending on the requirements of the platform.’ Yet, as The Register reports, references to KVM have been disappearing from the company’s pages.

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