AWS Instance Types, Utilization, and Performance

Virtualization Types

All the instances uses either one of these virtualization method

Virtualization Types:-The main difference between this two type of virtualization is whether they can use special hardware extension like (CPU,HardDisk) in order to provide better performance support  HVM is current generation and provides better performance

  • HVM  AMIS (Hardware virtual machine)
    • Can use special hardware extensions
    • Can use PV drivers for network and storage
    • Usually the same or better than PV alone
    • It has got fully set of virtualized set of hardwares
    • Root by executing the master boot record of the root block device of your image
    • All current generation instance type support HVMs
    • To find a HVM ami verify that the virtualization type has been set to hvm using the console or describ-images command
  • PV AMIs (ParaVirtual)
    • PV AMIs boot with he special boot loader PV-Grub which starts the boot cycle and then loads the kernel specified in the menu.list file of the our image
    • They can run on host hardware which doesn’t have explicit hardware and GPU processing extentions or support for virtulization
    • To find a PV AMI, verify that the virtualization type of the AMI is set to paravirtual, using the console or the describe-images command


PV over HVM:-


Paravirtual guests traditionally performed better with storage and network operations than HVM guests because they could leverage special drivers for I/O that avoided the overhead of emulating network and disk hardware, whereas HVM guests had to translate these instructions to emulated hardware. Now these PV drivers are available for HVM guests, so operating systems that cannot be ported to run in a paravirtualized environment (such as Windows) can still see performance advantages in storage and network I/O by using them. With these PV on HVM drivers, HVM guests can get the same, or better, performance than paravirtual guests.




Available Instance Types

Amazon EC2 provides the instance types listed in the following tables.

Current Generation Instances

For the best performance, we recommend that you use the current generation instance types when you launch new instances. For more information about the current generation instance types, see Amazon EC2 Instances.

Instance Family Current Generation Instance Types
General purpose t2.nano | t2.micro | t2.small | t2.medium | t2.large | t2.xlarge | t2.2xlarge | m4.large | m4.xlarge | m4.2xlarge | m4.4xlarge | m4.10xlarge | m4.16xlarge | m3.medium | m3.large | m3.xlarge | m3.2xlarge
Compute optimized c4.large | c4.xlarge | c4.2xlarge | c4.4xlarge | c4.8xlarge | c3.large | c3.xlarge | c3.2xlarge | c3.4xlarge | c3.8xlarge
Memory optimized r3.large | r3.xlarge | r3.2xlarge | r3.4xlarge | r3.8xlarge | r4.large | r4.xlarge | r4.2xlarge | r4.4xlarge | r4.8xlarge | r4.16xlarge | x1.16xlarge | x1.32xlarge
Storage optimized i2.xlarge | i2.2xlarge | i2.4xlarge | i2.8xlarge | d2.xlarge | d2.2xlarge | d2.4xlarge | d2.8xlarge
Accelerated computing p2.xlarge | p2.8xlarge | p2.16xlarge | g2.2xlarge | g2.8xlarge

Previous Generation Instances

Amazon Web Services offers previous generation instances for users who have optimized their applications around these instances and have yet to upgrade. We encourage you to use the latest generation of instances to get the best performance, but we will continue to support these previous generation instances. If you are currently using a previous generation instance, you can see which current generation instance would be a suitable upgrade. For more information, see Previous Generation Instances.

Instance Family Previous Generation Instance Types
General purpose m1.small | m1.medium | m1.large | m1.xlarge
Compute optimized c1.medium | c1.xlarge | cc2.8xlarge
Memory optimized m2.xlarge | m2.2xlarge | m2.4xlarge | cr1.8xlarge
Storage optimized hi1.4xlarge | hs1.8xlarge
Accelerated computing cg1.4xlarge
Micro instances t1.micro

Hardware Specifications

For more information about the hardware specifications for each Amazon EC2 instance type, see Amazon EC2 Instances.

To determine which instance type best meets your needs, we recommend that you launch an instance and use your own benchmark application. Because you pay by the instance hour, it’s convenient and inexpensive to test multiple instance types before making a decision.

Even after you make a decision, if your needs change, you can resize your instance later on. For more information, see Resizing Your Instance.


Amazon EC2 instances run on 64-bit virtual Intel processors as specified in the instance type product pages. For more information about the hardware specifications for each Amazon EC2 instance type, see Amazon EC2 Instances. However, confusion may result from industry naming conventions for 64-bit CPUs. Chip manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) introduced the first commercially successful 64-bit architecture based on the Intel x86 instruction set. Consequently, the architecture is widely referred to as AMD64 regardless of the chip manufacturer. Windows and several Linux distributions follow this practice. This explains why the internal system information on an Ubuntu or Windows EC2 instance displays the CPU architecture as AMD64 even though the instances are running on Intel hardware.

Virtualization Types

Each instance type supports one or both of the following types of virtualization: paravirtual (PV) or hardware virtual machine (HVM). The virtualization type of your instance is determined by the AMI that you use to launch it.

For best performance, we recommend that you use an HVM AMI. In addition, HVM AMIs are required to take advantage of enhanced networking. HVM virtualization uses hardware-assist technology provided by the AWS platform. With HVM virtualization, the guest VM runs as if it were on a native hardware platform, except that it still uses PV network and storage drivers for improved performance. For more information, see Linux AMI Virtualization Types.

Networking and Storage Features

When you select an instance type, this determines the networking and storage features that are available.

Networking features

  • Some instance types are not available in EC2-Classic, so you must launch them in a VPC. By launching an instance in a VPC, you can leverage features that are not available in EC2-Classic, such as enhanced networking, assigning multiple private IPv4 addresses to an instance, assigning IPv6 addresses to an instance, and changing the security groups assigned to an instance. For more information, see Instance Types Available Only in a VPC.
  • To maximize the networking and bandwidth performance of your instance type, you can do the following:
    • Launch supported instance types into a placement group to optimize your instances for high performance computing (HPC) applications. Instances in a common placement group can benefit from high-bandwidth (10 Gbps), low-latency networking. For more information, see Placement Groups. Instance types that support 10 Gbps network speeds can only take advantage of those network speeds when launched in a placement group.
    • Enable enhanced networking for supported current generation instance types to get significantly higher packet per second (PPS) performance, lower network jitter, and lower latencies. For more information, see Enhanced Networking on Linux.
  • The maximum supported MTU varies across instance types. All Amazon EC2 instance types support standard Ethernet V2 1500 MTU frames. All current generation instances support 9001 MTU, or jumbo frames, and some previous generation instances support them as well. For more information, see Network Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) for Your EC2 Instance.

Storage features

  • Some instance types support EBS volumes and instance store volumes, while other instance types support only EBS volumes. Some instances that support instance store volumes use solid state drives (SSD) to deliver very high random I/O performance. For more information, see Storage.
  • To obtain additional, dedicated capacity for Amazon EBS I/O, you can launch some instance types as EBS–optimized instances. Some instance types are EBS–optimized by default. For more information, see Amazon EBS–Optimized Instances.


Reference Video:-



Leave a Reply