What are the types of EC2 Instances?

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Apr 27, 2022

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While there are many AWS services that are popular all around the globe, the EC2 instances are the major ones. There is a huge variety of instances that are being offered by Amazon as the EC2 instance types and they are a combination of various features like CPU, storage, memory, etc. As we know one of the best advantages that the users have with EC2 is having the option to customize their instances and have flexibility for them, there are various options for the users to choose from. So, while keeping this in mind, we are going to discuss some of the major instance types of EC2 and see what are the main features of those instances. Later, we will see how one should make the decision and choose the right combination to have the maximum performance for their work. In your AWS Devops Training, you will learn all about them and see what you should choose to have better performance. But first, we will discuss very briefly what is EC2 and what are the EC2 instances.

What is an EC2 instance and why is it so important?

Amazon EC2 instance is a virtual server that is present as Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).  If the company is looking for an unlimited set of virtual machines, then EC2 can be the answer for the same. The use of EC2 will eliminate the need for the hardware upfront. Using this, you can manage the storage and have a better configuration for your security and networking. You can choose as many servers as you need for the same. It will drastically reduce the need to forecast the traffic which is going to help you to handle the various changes that come during the application development. The best part about the EC2 instances is that it is compatible with all the other AWS services and they can be used in sync with each other. This provides a whole solution to the user and this is also very secure and reliable.

EC2 Instance Types

Well, now you have clearly understood what is EC2 and why more and more users are leaning towards it. Now let us discuss all about the aws ec2 instance types and know more about them. Major instance types are:

  1. General Purpose Instances
  2. Compute Optimized Instances
  3. Accelerated Computing Instances
  4. Memory-Optimized Instances
  5. Storage Optimized Instances

General Purpose Instances

When the users are looking for balance while keeping the compute, memory, networking resources, and storage in mind, the general-purpose instances are the best choice. They are designed for scalable services which include web servers, microservices and also distributed data stores. If we talk about the general-purpose instances, this family includes A1, T4g, T3, T3a, T2, M6g, M5, M5a, M5n, and M4 instance types.

Whenever you are going to start your journey with the instances and start using the EC2 instances, then going for general-purpose instances can be a good option. Generally, there are two types of instances in this family- t2 and m5, where the t stands for tiny and m stands for micro or medium. The t2 instances are known to be the burstable instance type which means that you can use them to run applications that are simpler in nature like the website or the development environment. This is one of the cheaper options in this family, but the only thing is that you cannot use it when you need the instance for a high computing job or need more memory. So, for this, m5 comes into the picture. With this, you can overcome the challenges that you were having with t2. Along with M5, there are other options like m4 and m6. With m5, you are going to get higher capacity which is not possible with the t2 family. Here more resources can be added, and it is one of the most commonly used instances. There is also another instance type- m5d, the main difference between m5 and m5d is that the m5 uses HDD and m5d uses the SSD.

Another type includes the A1 type which is ARM-based and they are very good for consistent workloads. They are selectively available for certain parts of the world.

There are various use case scenarios that you can see with this type of EC2 instance. They are mostly used for web application servers, for the development, or QA environment. Along with this, they are widely popular for gaming servers where low storage and CPU are required. They can be used for enterprise applications as well.

Compute Optimized Instances

These types of instances will offer you a higher CPU to memory ratio. When you have a high demand for computing then you should look for the compute-optimized instances. They are very good for application servers, gaming servers, and also web applications. The main difference between the general and the compute-optimized instances is that in compute instances, you can expect high performance and they can be used when the intensive need for computing is present.

If you are looking for the instance where you can have a higher computing power but lesser memory is required, then going for this is the best with c4, c5, and c6 families. Here c5 is most commonly used. They can be used when there is higher performance required for analytics workloads, there is multiplayer gaming or there is media transcoding.

  1. The best places for the c5 instances to perform well are online gaming where there are many players, scientific modeling along with media transcoding. In all these raw computing powers are required. They are executed on the Intel Xeon Platinum processor and have 25% more improvement if compared to the previous generations of c4.
  2. The c6 family of instances in this are very powerful and they are powered by the AWS Graviton2 series of processors. They are highly suitable for high-intensity applications. With the c6g type of instance, you can get a 40% improvement in the price-performance if we compare it to the c5 family of instances.
  3. The compute-optimized instance family is helpful in building complex machine learning models and also scientific models etc. The various use case scenarios for these kinds of EC2 instance types include batch data processing, and distributed analytics platform. Along with this, they are highly popular for video encoding and production.

Accelerated Computing Instances

When the additional hardware accelerators are used in the systems like the Graphics Processing Units or Field Programmable Gate Arrays, accelerated computing instances are being used. They are helpful in providing a higher throughput in the intensive application and there is more parallelism. Using this, the application will be enabled to use the NVIDIA GPUs which generally consist of thousands of cores. Some common accelerated computing instance types and their features are mentioned below:

  1. P3 instance: Using this instance type, the users are going to get the latest generation GPU-based instance that can use up to 8 NVIDIA, and it is powered by a high-frequency Intel Xeon Processor. Using this instance, the users can get up to 100 GB of network bandwidth that can be used for high-performance applications.
  2. P2 Instance: These instances feature NVIDIA K80 GPUs. They are very powerful and they are powered by Intel Xeon Processor. They have high-performance double precision and networking that is very useful for floating-point calculations. They are ideal for deep learning applications and also for databases where high performances are required.
  3. Inf1 Instance: These instances feature the 16 AWS inferential machine learning chips in them and they have low latency and cost-effective features along with better performances. They are powered by Intel Xeon 2nd generation processors.
  4. G3 instance: This instance is designed with Tesla NVIDIA M60 GPU and it is known as one of the cost-effective and high-performance instances that can be used for graphic-intensive applications that use DirectX or OpenGL. They are powered with high-frequency Intel Xeon processors and they have virtual workstation functionality.
  5. G4 Instances: They are suitable for accelerated machine learning inference and workloads that have high graphic usage. They are powered by the 2nd generation Intel Xeon processor. They use NVIDIA T4 Tensor Core GPU and this helps the instance to support the NVIDIA Grid Virtual workstation feature.
  6. F1 Instance: They feature FPGAs. They have the ability to offer high acceleration to the system and they are powered by the Intel Xeon processor which features the NVMe SSD. They are highly customized and the van is used for the deployment of the applications.

Memory-Optimized Instances

Now if you are looking for instances that could help you have ultra-fast access to the data and also help you to deliver better performance, then going for memory-optimized instances can be the right choice. They are high-speed, solid-state drives that could be used for applications when there is a need for more memory and less CPU power. They include open-source databases and real-time big data analysis as well as in-memory caches. They are used for operations where there is a need for a memory-intensive instance. They are particularly used for relational databases which include some examples like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and NoSQL databases like MongoDB and Cassandra. Some common instances for this family are:

  1. R5/R5a/R5n Instance:  When the high memory consumption is going to be there, these kinds of instances are best suitable. R5 and r5a are powered by Intel and AMD processors. If we compare these to the previous generations of r4, they offer 5% more memory and there is a 10% improvement as well.
  2. R6g/R6gd Instances: These kinds of instances are powered by AWS Graviton2 processor and they are best suitable for the high memory workloads that are used for an open-source database like MySQL.  Using this, the users can have block-level storage as it has the local NVME based SSD drive that is physically connected to the host server.
  3. X1/X1e Instances: These instances are powered by Intel Xeon Processor and are designed to provide high computational memory for the applications that have a need for high memory consumption. The commonly used applications for this instance are SAP HANA, Apache Spark, and many more. The X1 instances provide the highest memory to compute ratio and it is cost-effective as well.
  4. High Memory Instance: As the name of this instance goes, this is one of the highest capacity providers for RAM that ranges from 6TB to 24 TB. It is provided in the single instance as well. They are used for the deployment of applications like SAP HANA. The main catch with these instances is that they are only available for the dedicated hosts and you need to be committed for a 3-year period

Storage Optimized Instances

When you need to support the high I/O workloads then this type of instance can be used. They are used for parallel processing or MPP data warehouses. There are two types of devices that are used in this instance for storage- HDD and SDD. The use of SDD is preferred when there is the need for high read and write rates as they are capable of handling the writing and reading at a faster rate as compared to the HDD. There are various instances that are available in this family:

  1. D2 Instance: It includes the 48TB of HDD Storage and these instances are storage optimized with high-density storage. This offers high disk throughput, D2 instances that are available at a lower cost per disk on Amazon EC2. These instances are used for MPP Data warehousing and MapReduce as mentioned above.
  2. H1 Instance: If we compare this with the D2 instance, then there is a reduction in the storage density. This instance offers up to 16 TB HDD storage space. When you want to use applications like data-intensive applications which include MapReduce, they are very suitable for the job.
  3. l3/ l3en instance: The l3 instance family of the storage optimized instances offers SSD storage which has a lower latency as compared to HDD-based instances. They are very suitable for high-performing applications where storage is required.

How to choose the right instance for your work?

Well, now that you have learned all about the instances that are being offered as the EC2 instance types, you can now head to the real work and see how you can choose the best one. When you are working with the application, there will be a pattern that will emerge among these instances and there are certain characteristics that will make you certain about your choice. The CPU capacity, the memory needed, and the storage needed for the particular instance are very well defined and they are one of the major considerations when you need to make the choice. You have to take care of the accelerated hardware options that are connected to the system so that you can choose the right instance for you.

So, in order to make the right decision, first, you need to understand the small nuances that are being offered by these different families, and with that knowledge, you will be able to make the optimal choices for your operations. As you know that for a small instance, this can be done manually, but as the environment grows, this becomes more complex and you will need the right instance by your side to have a great and high-performing system.

Final Words

The use of EC2 has changed how the users are interacting with various AWS services and with the variety of instances offered, the task becomes easier. To cater to the workloads and ever-changing demands, the EC2 always goes for new releases and there will be new instances added which will be more suitable to the needs of the users. So, in this article, you learned all about the various instance families and their types. You can learn more about them with the best course out there. AWS is a growing domain and if you want to have a strong grip over the concepts then you should enroll in our AWS Devops Certification Training and ensure that you have gained the understanding and are all ready to have a wonderful career in this field.

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