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Cloud users expect cost savings in new AWS EC2 instances

Amazon's latest line of compute-optimized instances offers built-in Elastic Block Store integration and boosted performance over previous generations.

Amazon Web Services has made its latest line of EC2 instances generally available, a move some IT shops see as good news for their wallets.

C4 instances were introduced at Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent conference in November, but hadn't been generally available until now. The C4 instances follow the C3 line with support for new custom-designed Intel processors (code-named "Haswell") which run at 2.9 GHz, with the ability to burst up to 3.5 GHz.

Sizes and prices range from the c4.large, which offers 2 vCPUs, 3.75 GB memory and 500 Mbps dedicated throughput to the Elastic Block Store (EBS) service, for $0.116 per hour to the c4.8xlarge, which boosts the vCPU count to 36, offers up to 60 GB of memory and has 4 Gbps throughput to EBS for $1.856 per hour.

The dedicated throughput to EBS is what caught the eye of Devon Lazarus, a software and technology architect for a consumer electronics manufacturer headquartered on the West Coast. He uses C3s extensively now and all of them use EBS-optimized file systems, but rarely use the ephemeral storage on those instances, which increases hardware costs, Lazarus said.

"The new C4 instances are a few cents more per hour in on-demand pricing, but offer EBS optimization wrapped up in that cost," he said.

The company still has to crunch the numbers to know for sure, but if the results are positive in performance and cost, they'll roll C4 instances out in the first half of this year, Lazarus said.

The news comes as Amazon's competitor Microsoft rolls out monster VMs with support for up to 448 GB of memory on its Azure cloud computing service.

"Expect specsmanship to continue with leapfrogging on both sides; most customers will be well-served by both clouds," said John Treadway, senior vice president with Cloud Technology Partners, based in Boston, Mass. "Google … may have less use for these bigger instance types, but eventually they will likely have them too." 

Treadway said he's seen customers with performance needs that will fit these new, bigger instances.

"There's no question as to whether or not they are valuable," he said.

Linux operating systems can also take advantage of a feature of the new Intel processors that manages power consumption on a per-core basis. So, for example, if an application needs two of the 18 physical cores in the c4.8xlarge, the other 16 can be put into a sleep state to draw less power.

C4 instances are available now in seven of Amazon's 11 regions: US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland), Asia Pacific (Tokyo), US West (Northern California), Asia Pacific (Singapore), and Asia Pacific (Sydney).

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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