Types of Amazon EC2 Instances

There are many types of EC2 instances to choose from, depending on the characteristics of the application of your choice.

Elastic Compute Cloud or EC2 is a central part of the Amazon Inc’s cloud computing platform- Amazon Web Services or AWS. EC2 allows developers and users to take on rent virtual computers for running their own individual computer applications. A major advantage of this service is that it allows users to create, launch or terminate virtual servers known as instances according to the applications they want to run and for time periods they want them. Amazon EC2 instance also provides users the option to control the geographical locations of instances or servers. Developers and users can choose from a variety of instances offered by Amazon. Let’s look at them.

The instances available from Amazon’s cloud computing program are sized on the basis of Elastic Compute Units wherein one EC2 Compute provides CPU capacity which is equivalent to that of a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor.  The company offers three types of instances at present:

Amazon EC2 instances can be grouped into eight categories and users can choose from any of these instances depending on the applications they want to run:

  • First Generation Standard Instances – Available in small, medium, large and extra large options, these instances offer customer a balanced set of resources and a low cost platform that is well suited for a wide variety of applications.
  • Second Generation Standard Instances – Available in large and extra large options, these instances are ideal for applications requiring higher absolute CPU and memory performance. Such instances are highly useful for encoding purposes and for managing high traffic content management systems.
  • Micro Instances – This option provides a small amount of consistent  CPU resources and allow you to increase CPU capacity in short intervals when additional cycles are free.
  • High Memory Instances – Suitable for high throughput applications, this family of instances offers large memory sizes ranging from 17.4 Gib to 68.4 Gib.
  • High CPU Instances – This family offers more CPU resources that are well suited for computer intensive applications.
  • Cluster Compute Instances – This category includes high CPU resources and increased network performance that are highly useful for applications that are network bound.
  • Cluster GPU Instances – This category includes high CPU resources, enhanced network performance and general purpose graphics processing units or GPUs.
  • High I/O Instances – Ideally suited for high performance database workloads, this family of instances offer high levels of CPU, memory and network performance.
  • High Storage Instances – This option is highly suitable for applications that require high sequential input output performance across data sets that are very large.
  • EBS Optimized Instances – Amazon EC2 has an option wherein customers can by paying a low additional charge, launch EBS optimized instances which enable full utilization of IOPS volumes nearly 100% of the times.

The choice of an instance type should depend on the characteristics of the application to be used. Since Amazon EC2 calls for payment by the hour, one can easily test the performance of a single application on various instance families and types.

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