AWS has launched EC2 cloud instances powered by its new ARM-based AWS Graviton processor

At AWS re:Invent on Monday night, it was a new processor announcement that drew the loudest cheers from the Las Vegas crowd.

In his opening keynote, AWS VP Peter DeSantis announced that Amazon has designed 64-bit ARM server processors in-house. The energy-efficient processors – dubbed Graviton – are available now as a service on AWS.

Shot in the ARM

The A1 instances among the cheapest on the cloud platform. CEO of AWS Andy Jassy took to Twitter after the announcement, saying AWS has passed the ARM-based energy savings on to its customers, ‘reducing them by up to 45% for scale-out workloads’.

In total there are five A1 instances available, ranging from a1.medium (packing 1vCPU, 2GB ram, up to 3.5Gbps EBS, 10Gbps network bandwidth) to a1.4xlarge (with 16 vCPUs and 32GB RAM). a1.medium will set AWS customers back $0.0255 per hour, a1.4xlarge $0.4080 per hour.

The A1 instances are built around ARM cores and make use of custom-built silicon. In a blog post, AWS evangelist Jeff Barr said the instances are optimised for performance and cost.

“They are a great fit for scale-out workloads where you can share the load across a group of smaller instances,” Barr wrote.

“If your application is written in a scripting language, odds are that you can simply move it over to an A1 instance and run it as-is. If your application compiles down to native code, you will need to rebuild it on an A1 instance.”

This marks the first time ARM processors have been made available by a major cloud provider.

The GPUs run on Amazon Linux 2, RHEL, and Ubuntu and are available now in the US East (N. Virginia)US East (Ohio)US West (Oregon), and Europe (Ireland) Regions.

ARM-powered data centre servers

Amazon’s embracing of ARM is a big win for the processor architecture underdog, which has had an up-and-down three decades.

ARM-based servers are attractive for their light power usage and mighty processing power. Thanks to the popularity of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor line, ARM architecture has attained prominence in the smartphone market.

ARM processors have been vying for a slice for a data centre pie and have been slowly moving into the enterprise server space, but are dominated in the enterprise market by x86 chips – 95% of which are stamped with Intel’s name.

Last month ARM claimed a million ARM powered data centre servers would ship in 2018, and it appears an ARM ecosystem has well and truly entered the enterprise data centre, now that Amazon joins tech-titan Microsoft in designing ARM servers and deploying them in its data centres – although Microsoft is yet to offer them as a service on its own cloud platform Azure.