During the upcoming AWS re:INVENT 2017 conference in Las Vegas (Nov. 27th – Dec. 1st), Amazon is going to present a major change to its cloud offering, one with enormous ramifications! Yes, you read that right—and yes, that exclamation mark is fully justified.
It’s official. AWS is going to add Red Hat’s KVM hypervisor to its EC2 offering. With it come new EC2 instance types to hopefully bring your AWS workloads to a whole new level of performance and reliability.
Changing of the guards: how KVM caught the Xen community by surprise
Having relied on the Xen Hypervisor for years, many AWS users and developers have began to take it for granted. Your AMIs may well depend on it—for better or worse.
Amazon fully intends to discontinue the Xen hypervisor in the near future. In the short run, Xen and KVM are going to coexist peacefully. At the end, “the majority of applications will function the same way under both Xen and the new EC2 hypervisor as long as the operating system has the needed support for the Elastic Network Adapter – High Performance Network Interface for Amazon EC2 and low-latency Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) based storage,” says Amazon on its website. Let’s hope that’s going to be the case.
You may remember how AWS discontinued its support for paravirtual virtualization once it could offer full support for the Xen hypervisor. Workloads had to be moved. In the end, everyone was happy, but the switch was a rough one for some users.
With the upcoming change, Amazon plans to introduce new EC2 instance types. Kiss your Xen AMIs goodbye.
New KVM-based EC2 instances on AWS: the C5 generation
Up until today, AWS has only ever mentioned KVM in passing. The change was rumored, but unconfirmed, until finally Intel spilled the beans.
Industry analysts agree that while the remarks about KVM are only a few (and far between), the ramifications are huge.
AWS EC2 has a new instance type creatively called “C5” or the fifth generation of compute instances (Still, it wins a price for ingenuity.).
The C5 generation is powered by Intel’s Skylake Xeons. AWS may even be the last major cloud provider to jump on the Skylake bandwagon. Google was the first to offer Intel’s Skylake in June 2017. IBM followed just shy of four weeks later. Microsoft joined the club later. Now AWS finally followed in its competition’s footsteps. On the upside, AWS gets a custom design. You read that right, “a custom processor, optimized for EC2.”
How AWS managed to wring out a custom 3.0 GHz Xeon Platinum 8000-series processor out of Intel to power its own C5 instances is anyone’s guess. Apparently, Jeff Bezos lets his investors’ money work hard for the AWS community.