AWS announces public preview of EC2 Bare Metal Instances

After providing VMware customers with bare metal access, AWS has extended the offering to its own customers in public preview.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced EC2 Bare Metal Instances in public preview, opening up what was previously supporting VMware Cloud on AWS to allow customers to run workloads on bare metal servers.

Making the announcement at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, VP of Global Infrastructure at AWS Peter DeSantis said these bare metal instances give customers the "best of both worlds", as it allows the operating system to run directly on the underlying hardware while still providing access to the benefits of the AWS cloud.

"Now non-virtualised workloads, workloads that need a specific hypervisor or access to specific hardware features, and workloads with restrictive, hostile licensing can take full advantage of the benefits of the AWS cloud," De Santis said. "And once these workloads are in AWS, they can take full advantage of other AWS services, including virtual private cloud."

The public preview of the i3.metal instance is the first in a series of EC2 instances, with De Santis revealing that AWS will be rolling out additional instance families over the coming months.

The instance offers direct access to the processor and other hardware, boasting two Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 processors running at 2.3GHz, with a total of 36 hyperthreaded cores.

It comprises 512GiB of memory; 15.2 terabytes of local, SSD-based NVMe storage; and 25Gbps of ENA-based enhanced networking.

"We knew that other customers also had interesting use cases for bare metal hardware and didn't want to take the performance hit of nested virtualisation," AWS explained in a blog post.

"They wanted access to the physical resources for applications that take advantage of low-level hardware features such as performance counters and Intel VT that are not always available or fully supported in virtualised environments, and also for applications intended to run directly on the hardware or licensed and supported for use in non-virtualised environments."

AWS, alongside VMware, announced in October last year that they would be forming a strategic partnership, starting with a new hybrid cloud service, VMware Cloud on AWS.

VMware Cloud on AWS runs VMware's enterprise class software-defined datacentre on the AWS cloud, allowing customers to run any application across public, private, or hybrid cloud environments. With the service, VMware's vSphere, VSAN, and NSX all run on the AWS cloud, and the service is optimised to run on dedicated, bare metal AWS infrastructure.

Earlier on Tuesday, the pair expanded their hybrid cloud service, adding new capabilities that focus in part on assisting customers with disaster recovery and adding on-demand capacity.

Also on Tuesday, AWS launched new M5 instances. Based on Custom Intel Xeon Platinum 8175M series processors running at 2.5GHz, the M5 instances are designed for highly demanding workloads and are touted as delivering 14 percent better price/performance than the M4 instances on a per-core basis.

According to AWS, applications that use the AVX-512 instructions will "crank out" twice as many FLOPS per core.


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