AWS September roundup: EC2 changes, new France region, and more

0 Posted by - 7th October 2016 - Technology

The days may be getting shorter up in the northern hemisphere, but that hasn’t slowed the pace of updates to AWS. Amazon has kept on updating its cloud platform with a handful of quality-of-life changes, plus some major tweaks to how it handles Reserved Instances. Here’s the rundown:

Major changes to EC2 Reserved Instances

One of the ways for customers to get discounts on compute capacity with Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud is to sign up for Reserved Instances. Then they pay a set amount of money for the benefit of getting deep discounts on compute. It’s something that Amazon introduced 8 years ago and has been an important part of the company’s cloud offering since. Now, they’re making some pretty big changes.

Customers can continue to purchase those standard reserved instances, which lock down capacity in a specific set of data centers. But now they can go for a pricing benefit across the whole region, though they’ll lose that reserved capacity.

Amazon also launched new Convertible Reserved Instances, which give users a discount and let them change the sort of instances that they’re using. Users can change the instance type, operating system or tenancy of a Convertible Reserved Instance without resetting the term of their agreement.

Users can only convert to instances that are of equal or greater value to the ones that they reserved. If they decide to go bigger, they may have to pay extra. Convertible instances can save customers up to 45 percent over three years, Amazon says. That compares with roughly 60 percent savings for standard instances, which don’t let users change what they bought.

New EC2 instance types

EC2 got a couple of new instance types in the past month to support beefier workloads. For high-performance computing applications, the new P2 instances give customers access to instances with as many as 16 physical GPUs, 64 virtual CPUs, 732GiB (gibibytes) of memory and 192GiB of GPU memory. (1 GiB is roughly equivalent to 1.074GB.)

Those instances are aimed at applications that require a ton of power, like deep learning, machine learning, computational fluid dynamics, seismic analysis and genomics. All of that comes at a price — the p2.16xlarge is one of Amazon’s most expensive instance types. 

On top of that, there’s also a new m4.16xlarge instance type, which expands Amazon’s latest generation of general-purpose compute instances with more power. It sports 64 virtual CPUs and 256GiB of RAM, a boost over the 40 vCPUs and 160GiB of RAM in the m4.10xlarge.

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