Amazon Brings SSD Performance To Cloud With New High I/O Instance

The new High I/O instance is targeted at applications that require low-latency access to high-speed storage, making Amazon Web Services much more flexible for users looking to run more higher-performance applications in the cloud.

In a blog post introducing AWS's new High I/O instances, Jeff Barr, lead web services evangelist at, wrote that many mobile and web applications are highly I/O dependent and need to store and retrieve lots of data "as fast as possible in order to respond to clicks and gestures in real time."

[Related: Red Hat Releases Virtual Storage Appliance For Amazon AWS ]

He cited Cassandra and MongoDB versions of the open-source NoSQL database as examples of applications that would be suited for the AWS High I/O EC2 instance.

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The first version of the High I/O EC2 instance, called the High I/O Quadruple Extra Large instance, includes eight virtual processor cores that clock in at 35 EC2 Compute Units, along with 60.5 GB of RAM, 10-Gbit Ethernet connectivity with support for cluster, and 2 TB of SSD storage configured as two 1-TB volumes that are local to the instance.

The instance can use either paravirtual (PV) virtualization or hardware virtual machine (HVM) virtualization.

With PV virtualization, users can expect about 120,000 random read I/Os per second and between 10,000 and 85,000 random write IOs per second with 4K blocks, depending on how the data is written to the SSD. With HVM and Windows AMIs (Amazon Machine Images), users can expect about 90,000 random read I/Os per second and between 9,000 and 75,000 random write IOs per second.

Barr compared that to a high-performance, 15-rpm hard drive that might deliver 175 to 210 IOs per second.

AWS High I/O Quadruple Extra Large instances can be launched alone or, when HVM virtualization is used, in clusters. They are available at an on-demand cost of $3.10 in the U.S. East territory and $3.41 in the EU West territory, Barr wrote.

NEXT: Users Looking Forward To AWS High I/O Instances

Comments on Barr's blog were enthusiastic, with a couple posts asking when the AWS High I/O instance might be available in something like an AWS m1.large instance.

One of those posters with the moniker of "Thierryschellenbach" wrote, "Any plans to offer lower end instances with SSD-backed storage? Our use case is we have an I/O hungry application that can run fine on m1.large. Would like to eliminate poor EBS [Elastic Block Store] performance bottleneck."

One AWS user, who requested anonymity, told CRN that the High I/O instance was a pleasant surprise given that he has been looking for ways to run certain applications in the cloud and hadn't been able to do so before because of the latency between virtual servers and storage.

"It will take Rackspace and others two years to catch up with Amazon with this," the user said.