Table Of Contents
What Is AWS Graviton? AWS Graviton Vs. Graviton2: What Are The Differences? When Should You Use AWS Graviton Processors? What Are The Benefits Of Using AWS Graviton? How Does AWS Graviton Billing Work? Graviton Benchmarks Choosing The Right Solution For Your Organization

When Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched its new Arm-based processors, some circles believed it was a game-changer for the public cloud markets. To begin with, it was the first time Arm architecture would roll out for enterprise-grade utility, and at a colossal scale.

Arm processors had only run on smaller, less demanding devices such as iPhones. So why adopt it for much more demanding workloads in cloud services?

This post looks at what AWS Graviton is, if Graviton2 processors are better than the first-generation Graviton A1 cores, and what it all means for you.

What Is AWS Graviton?

AWS Graviton is a series of server processors that AWS released in 2018 based on Arm architecture for customers of its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) virtual machine instances. The first generation AWS Graviton processors featured custom silicon and 64-bit Neoverse cores. 

The EC2 A1 instances support Arm-based applications such as web servers, caching fleets, distributed data centers, and containerized microservices.

They settled on using an open Arm architecture. That meant saving costs by not creating a new chip from scratch. Instead, they took an existing Arm architecture and customized it for how AWS EC2 instances work.

Why did AWS create Graviton processors? 

Talking to NewStack towards the end of 2020, David Brown, Vice President of EC2 at AWS, revealed an interesting perspective.

He said they noted a staggering number of Amazon EC2 customers, both large and small, were barely using their EC2 capacities. So after listening to customers such as SmugMug and Flickr, AWS switched from the X86-64 family of processors for their servers for several reasons.

AWS wanted to:

  • Offer more choice in terms of selection of EC2 instances for customers 
  • Target Arm-based applications such as web servers
  • Provide high availability and security while reducing virtualization costs
  • Align decent server performance with lower prices for customers

AWS likely also wanted an in-house family of server processors built to work how AWS works rather than depending on Intel and AMD for innovation.

Are AWS Graviton processors any good?

Some circles felt the first-generation AWS Graviton processors played second fiddle to AMD and Intel processors at the time. But over time, the processors proved slightly better than X86-based processors for servers.

Ultimately, Arm processors have lower power consumption compared to X86 cores, for example. That may be one proposition that AWS had been going for, so it could trickle savings down to EC2 pricing.

But enterprise customers wanted in on the Graviton architecture, too. So in May 2020, AWS announced AWS Graviton2 with the promise to handle much more demanding workloads than before.

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AWS Graviton Vs. Graviton2: What Are The Differences?

At launch, AWS promised Graviton2 offered 40% “better price-performance than comparable” X86 processors and 7X better than first-generation AWS Graviton processors. The new-generation processors should also offer 4X compute cores, a memory that’s 5X faster, and 2X as large caches as Graviton1 processors.

With Graviton2, AWS also made some key improvements to empower developers to create cloud-native apps that can run securely and at scale. That includes the always-on 256-bit DRAM encryption.

Here is a closer look at the differences between first-generation AWS Graviton and Graviton2 processors.

1. Storage

AWS Graviton offers simple storage helpful in hosting web services like images, videos, and analytical data. Expect object-level data storage services that make it easier to access stored data remotely.

In comparison, Graviton2 offers block-level storage that helps store files at multiple values, commonly known as blocks. Blocks also protect data by not allowing easy access to it remotely with an internet connection. Expect features such as business continuity, NO SQL database, and software testing.

2. Information accessibility

AWS Graviton stores data in an unclustered format, making accessing data easy. You can retrieve the data using an HTTP protocol. In contrast, Graviton2 stores the data in a form accessible only to the attached connection.

3. Availability 

AWS Graviton is available through the internet using the Application Programming Interface (API). In contrast, Graviton2 is available by the single instance attached to the hardware processor.

4. Durability

AWS Graviton offers durability by storing data in multiple availability zones, whereas Graviton2 stores data only in a single availability zone.

5. Uses

Graviton2 is not limited to just powering EC2 instances. It can also run Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon RDS, and Amazon EKS (container services).

Yet, that’s not all. AWS has since released Graviton3 (in 2022) and Graviton4 (in November 2023) processors.

Here’s a quick comparison table highlighting the key differences between the AWS Graviton, Graviton2, Graviton3, and Graviton4 processors:

 

Graviton

Graviton2

Graviton3

Graviton4

Launch Year

2018

2019

2022

2023

Core Type

Cortex A72

Neoverse N1

Neoverse V1

Neoverse V2

Number of Cores

16

64

64

96

Clock Rate

2.3 GHz

2.5 GHz

2.6 GHz

 

Technology Node

16 nm

(Not specified)

(Not specified)

(Not specified)

Memory Channels

(Not specified)

(Not specified)

8 DDR5-4800

12 DDR5-5600

Key Features

Basic ARMv8-A support, Neon, CRC, Crypto

ARMv8.2-A, Neon, Crypto, Dotprod, FP16

ARMv8.4-A, Neon, SVE, BFloat16, Crypto, RNG

ARMv9.0-A, Branch Target Identification (BTI)

Performance

This generation is suitable for open-source and non-performance-critical workloads

These offer a 40% improvement in price/performance over 5th gen Intel/AMD processors. They also offer a 72% power consumption reduction

This generation offers 25% better compute performance over Graviton2, twice the cryptographic workload performance, and thrice the ML workload performance

Expect this gen to be up to 40% faster for databases, 30% faster for web applications, and 45% faster for large Java applications compared to Graviton3 processors

The table highlights how AWS Graviton processors have improved over time in terms of performance, efficiency, and support for advanced computing tasks.

When Should You Use AWS Graviton Processors?

Use AWS Graviton and Graviton2 for web servers, log processing, video encoding, electronic design automation, and machine learning based on a CPU interface.

Keep in mind that if you currently use X86-based servers, you would need to re-architect your application to run on the Arm architecture. For the trouble, you would see a significant reduction in price performance, but over time.

On that note, to really answer this question, you’ll want to first know exactly where AWS Graviton processors work.

Which Amazon EC2 instances are powered by Graviton processors?

Below you’ll find an overview of Amazon EC2 instances using various generations of AWS Graviton processors, along with a description and their best use case:

Powered by AWS Graviton2

  • T4g – This instance type supplies excellent price performance for burstable general-purpose workloads. Ideal use cases include running large-scale microservices and small to medium databases.
  • C6g, C6gd, C6gn – AWS designed these instances to handle compute- and network-intensive workloads. They are suitable for applications such as high-performance computing and video encoding.
  • X2gd – This option provides the lowest cost per GiB of memory. It is ideal for memory-intensive workloads like open-source databases and real-time analytics.
  • Im4gn – This instance type is optimized for storage-intensive workloads, and is perfect for SQL and NoSQL databases, search engines, and analytics.
  • Is4gen – This option offers the lowest cost per TB of SSD storage, suitable for databases, search engines, and large file systems.
  • G5g – If you are looking for an ideal option for graphics applications, including Android game streaming and machine learning inference, the G5g option may help.

Powered by AWS Graviton3

  • M7g, M7gd – These instances are ideal for general-purpose workloads that require balanced compute, memory, and networking power. Ideal use cases for them include running application servers, midsize data stores, and microservices.
  • C7g, C7gd, C7gn – These are best used for compute-intensive workloads such as high-performance computing, video encoding, gaming, and CPU-based machine learning inference acceleration.
  • R7g, R7gd – These two are ideal for memory-intensive workloads, including open-source databases (MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL) and in-memory caches (Redis, KeyDB, Memcached).

Powered by AWS Graviton4

  • R8g – This is the newest addition to the Graviton line of processors and is tailored for memory-intensive workloads, such as high-performance databases and real-time big data analytics.

These instances cater to a broad range of use cases, from general-purpose applications to specific, resource-intensive tasks like high-performance computing and large-scale data processing.

Which AWS services support Graviton processors today? 

Here’s a quick rundown of AWS services that support Graviton processors and what you can do with them:

  1. Amazon EC2 – This is like the backbone of cloud computing, giving you virtual servers to run your applications smoothly.
  2. Amazon ElastiCache – Think of it as a turbocharger for your database, speeding up data retrieval from your databases. Think of it as a turbocharger for your database, speeding up data retrieval from your databases.
  3. Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) – This is like a conductor for your container orchestras, helping manage and orchestrate your containerized applications.
  4. Amazon Aurora – A super-efficient, high-performance, and scalable relational database service that makes handling your data a breeze. It is compatible with MySQL and PostgreSQL.
  5. Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) – This service simplifies setting up, operating, and scaling a relational database in the cloud, and taking care of tedious tasks like backups and scaling. 
  6. Amazon MemoryDB for Redis – Perfect for storing and retrieving data super quickly, it’s like a high-speed memory lane for your apps. It delivers a Redis-compatible, in-memory database service for applications requiring microsecond latency.
  7. Amazon OpenSearch – This AWS service provides a suite of search and analytics services for analyzing large volumes of data quickly and at scale. Think of it as your cloud library’s search engine, making data search and analysis simple and fast.
  8. Amazon EMR – This service is designed to handle big data, helping you process vast amounts of data easily. It uses open-source tools such as Apache Spark and Hadoop.
  9. AWS Lambda – This serverless service runs code in response to events and automatically manages computing resources required by that code.
  10. AWS Fargate – Fargate is a serverless compute engine for containers that works with both Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). Fargate takes away the hassle of managing servers​​​​​​ to run containers.

With Graviton processors, these services make running certain tasks in the cloud more efficient and cost-effective. So, whether you’re managing data, running applications, or dealing with big data, there’s a Graviton-powered service to make your life easier.

What Are The Benefits Of Using AWS Graviton?

The most significant AWS Graviton benefits are reduced costs, low latency, better scalability, improved availability, and increased security.

1. Cost-effective

The processor family is based on the Arm architecture. That means they will likely be System on a Chip (SoC). That further translates to lower power consumption costs while offering satisfying performance to most customers.

2. Eco-system support

AWS Graviton and Graviton2 are based on the 64-bit Arm Neoverse core architecture. Several Linux-based operating systems support the configuration. They include Amazon Linux 2, SUSE, and Red Hat. That provides more choice to customers.

3. Effective CPU power

AWS Graviton processors also offer up to 3.45% higher performance than traditional architecture. They also provide more straightforward processor implementations than X86 processors.

4. Built for general purpose

AWS Graviton cores are also built to improve efficiency in servers, mid-size data-storing processes, micro-services, and cluster computing.

5. Offers burstable workload

They provide users with an extensive set of burstable workload services such as scale microservices, small and medium database services, virtual desktops, and a selection of applications suitable for critical business.

6. Build on a computer-intensive model

The processors are also built on a computer-intensive model like HD video performance computing, encoding videos, gaming, and CPU-based computer learning processes.

7. Offers enhanced networking

Expect support for a C6gn network at 100 Gbps networking capabilities of the Elastic Fabric Operator (EFO).

How Does AWS Graviton Billing Work?

After learning how AWS Graviton works and its computing benefits, here’s a look at Graviton and Graviton2 pricing:

  • General Purpose 
  • Current generation computer-optimized 
  • Graphic processing unit instances current generation pricing 
  • Graphic processing unit instances previous generation pricing 

Each part describes hourly price ranges.

For example: If you use on-demand m6g.xlarge for an hour, expect to see a $0.154 bill. If you opt for the EMR service, you are looking at a $0.039 bill.

Price model for general purpose

 

On-Demand Price

EMR Price

m6g.xlarge

$0.154 per hour

$0.039 per hour

m6g.2xlarge

$0.308 per hour

$0.154 per hour

m6g.4xlarge

$0.616 per hour

$0.154 per hour

m6g.8xlarge

$1.232 per hour

$0.308 per hour

m6g.12xlarge

$1.848 per hour

$0.462 per hour

m6g.16xlarge

$2.464 per hour

$0.616 per hour

m6gd.xlarge

$0.1808 per hour

$0.0452 per hour

m6gd.2xlarge

$0.3616 per hour

$0.0904 per hour

m6gd.4xlarge

$0.7232 per hour

$0.1808 per hour

m6gd.8xlarge

$1.4464 per hour

$0.3616 per hour

m6gd.12xlarge

$2.1696 per hour

$0.5424 per hour

m6gd.16xlarge

$2.8928 per hour

$0.7232 per hour

m5.xlarge

$0.192 per hour

$0.048 per hour

m5.2xlarge

$0.384 per hour

$0.096 per hour

m5.4xlarge

$0.768 per hour

$0.192 per hour

m5.8xlarge

$1.536 per hour

$0.27 per hour

m5.12xlarge

$2.304 per hour

$0.27 per hour

m5.16xlarge

$3.702 per hour

$0.27 per hour

m5.24xlarge

$4.608 per hour

$0.27 per hour

Current generation computer-optimized pricing 

c6g.xlarge

$0.136 per hour

$0.034 per hour

c6g.2xlarge

$0.272 per hour

$0.68 per hour

c6g.4xlarge

$0.544 per hour

$0.136 per hour

c6g.8xlarge

$1.088 per hour

$0.272 per hour

c6g.12xlarge

$1.632 per hour

$0.408 per hour

c6g.16xlarge

$2.176 per hour

$0.544 per hour

c6gd.xlarge

$0.1536 per hour

$0.3084 per hour

c6gd.2xlarge

$0.3072 per hour

$0.0768 per hour

c6gd.4xlarge

$0.6144 per hour

$0.1536 per hour

c6gd.8xlarge

$1.2288 per hour

$0.3072 per hour

c6gd.12xlarge

$1.8432 per hour

$0.4608 per hour

c6gd.16xlarge

$2.4576 per hour

$0.6144 per hour

c6gn.xlarge

$0.1728 per hour

$0.0432 per hour

c6gn.2xlarge

$0.3456 per hour

$0.0864 per hour

c6gn.4xlarge

$0.6912 per hour

$0.1728 per hour

c6gn.8xlarge

$1.3824 per hour

$0.3456 per hour

c6gn.12xlarge

$2.076 per hour

$0.5184 per hour

c6gn.16xlarge

$2.7646 per hour

$0.6912 per hour

c5.xlarge

$0.17 per hour

$0.04 per hour

c5.2xlarge

$0.34 per hour

$0.085 per hour

Graphics processing unit (GUP) instances current generation pricing

p3.2xlarge

$.306 per hour

$0.27 per hour

p3.8xlarge

$12.24 per hour

$0.27 per hour

p3.16xlarge

$24.48 per hour

$0.27 per hour

g4dn.xlarge

$0.526 per hour

$0.132 per hour

g4dn.2xlarge

$0.752 per hour

$0.188 per hour

g4dn.4xlarge

$1.204 per hour

$0.27 per hour

g4dn.8xlarge

$2.176 per hour

$0.27 per hour

g4dn.12xlarge

$3,192 per hour

$0.27 per hour

g4dn.16xlarge

$4.352 per hour

$0.27 per hour

g3.4xlarge

$1.14 per hour

$0.27 per hour

g3s.xlarge

$0.75 per hour

$0.188 per hour

Graphics processing unit (GUP) instances previous-generation pricing

p2.xlarge

$0.90 per hour

$0.225 per hour

p2.8xlarge

$7.20 per hour

$0.27 per hour

p2.16xlarge

$14.40 per hour

$0.27 per hour

Graviton Benchmarks

AWS Graviton

It provides the Elastic Fabric Adapter (EFA), which supports higher and better Turn-points. You can use the bundle of storage services it offers for any cluster set. It is also helpful in creating a parallel file system using Elastic Compute Cloud (ECC) services.

AWS Graviton also offers an on-demand Lustre file system that helps in managing large sets of files. Lustre is a high-speed parallel file management system that helps arrange a database without data contention. Additionally, AWS Graviton offers access to hardware accelerators to boost work speed.

AWS Graviton2

AWS Graviton2 offers 64-bit Advanced RISC machine (ARS) cores. According to Amazon EC2 vice president, running the latest Intel and Graviton2 processors in the same benchmark would see Graviton2 outdo the Intel processor by 20% in speed and 20% in raw performance.  

Choosing The Right Solution For Your Organization

AWS’s new Arm-based processors offer cost savings, security, scalability, flexibility, and increased performance over X86 and X64-based processors.

AWS Graviton2 EC2 instances support an even more comprehensive array of capabilities over AWS Graviton, including support for other AWS services such as RDS and EKS container services. But the first-generation AWS Graviton and the newest AWS Graviton2 processors also run on a different architecture to what most AWS public cloud customers currently use.

Would like to switch over to AWS Graviton-powered services?

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