Making Sense of AWS EC2 Instance Type Pricing: ECU vs. vCPU

Botmetric Dashboard Showing ECU vs. vCPU

Botmetric Dashboard Showing ECU vs. vCPU

If you are using Amazon Web Services, understanding the nuts and bolts of AWS EC2  instance type pricing is pivotal for you. Why? No two organizations are alike. And every organization has unique computing, storage and networking needs. By knowing the key technicalities, you can only pay for the EC2 Instance Type that fits your business scenarios rather than paying more.

AWS EC2 Instance Type – Unboxed

AWS, long time ago, classified different EC2 instance types (“virtual servers”) by defining an “Amazon EC2 Compute Unit” (ECU). This classification  till date helps developers to compare the CPU capacity between different EC2 instance types. AWS used many benchmarks to ensure that ECUs were consistently and predictably measured EC2 CPU capacity, regardless of the underlying hardware. It gave a relative measure of the integer processing power of an AWS EC2 Instance Type.

For new prospective AWS customers, this might be a difficult concept to grasp. Why? For the reason that more traditional deployments, like those on VMWare, were always declared with vCPU (Virtual CPU). The FAQs page on AWS has the complete information on this.

Rather than diving deep into this concept, today, in this blog post, I would like to talk more about ECU and vCPU and how the pricing points differ for both.

As cited on Amazon, EC2 provides a wide selection of instance types optimized to fit different use cases. Instance types comprise varying combinations of CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity. This type classification gives you the flexibility to choose the appropriate mix of resources for your applications. Each instance type includes one or more instance sizes, allowing you to scale your resources to the requirements of your target workload.

In April 2014, AWS moved towards using vCPU based measure. This compares EC2 Instance sizes as CPU (Clock Speed), the number of CPUs, RAM, Storage, etc. And each vCPU is a hyperthread of an Intel Xeon core for M4, M3, C4, C3, R3, HS1, G2, I2, and D2.

The M3 Instances may also launch as an Intel Xeon E5-2670 (Sandy Bridge) Processor running at 2.6 GHz. While the AVX, AVX2, and enhanced networking are only available on instances launched with HVM AMIs (Amazon Machine Image).

Now, take a look below at AWS EC2 Instance Type Matrix:



AWS EC2 Instance Type Matrix, image courtesy of AWS

AWS EC2 Instance Type Matrix, image courtesy of AWS

There’s a wide variety of EC2 instance types optimized to fit different use cases, combining varying CPU, memory, storage and networking capacities. This classification will help you to choose the right instance type for your particular business needs. Each instance type includes 1+ instance sizes to allow for scalability.

Only pay for the EC2 instance types that fit your business scenario.

From the above figure and the above classification information, you can get an idea as to how the pricing differs. To know more on this topic read the Amazon documentation.

In May, 2016, Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist at Amazon Web Services, announced on his blog new X1 Instances that are optimized for running memory-intensive big data, caching, and analytics workloads. You can read about that exciting news here.




This entry was posted in #savingcostonAWS, Amazon Web Services, Botmetric, Compute Instance Types, EC2, ECU vs vCPU and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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