Benchmarking Amazon's ARM Graviton CPU With EC2's A1 Instances
Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 26 November 2018. Page 5 of 5. 31 Comments

Next up is a look at the calculated performance-per-dollar based upon the current on-demand EC2 pricing as of testing these twelve instances.

The performance-per-dollar out of the A1 Graviton instances was quite low if the intention is deploying an ARMv8 web server.

The Rust Mandelbrot test was one of the rare cases where the Amazon ARM processors were successful in delivering the best performance-per-dollar.

In the highly threaded workloads with OpenMP or similar parallel programming interfaces, the larger A1 instances were competing on value but nothing jaw-dropping compared to the x86_64 instances.

For some of the tests/instances it was difficult to provide an accurate cost analysis due to the shorter running tests on these low-cost instances.

At this stage, the Amazon EC2 ARM instances don't make a lot of sense... Well, barely any sense unless you want scalable, on-demand access to ARMv8 computing resources for a build farm, ARM software debugging/testing, and related purposes. The performance of the Graviton processors powering the A1 instances came up well short of the comparable M5 general instance types with either AMD EPYC or Intel Xeon processors. Even with the cheaper pricing, the performance-per-dollar was still generally just on-par with the equivalent or slightly better than the Intel/AMD offerings.

Only in the few threaded workloads where Graviton was performing well did it offer potentially compelling cost savings compared to the other tested instances. Part of the advantage of ARM processors is also better power efficiency, but well, that doesn't really translate into much direct value for cloud customers. A1 makes sense for the niche though of developers wanting more easy to higher core count 64-bit ARM for software testing or build farms as these instances would offer much better capacity than Raspberry Pi type build farms. But for other cloud customers this is certainly a case of first needing to see how well your particular workloads will perform with Graviton for making a proper decision, but most users will likely be best off with the existing Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC instance types.

I'm still running more tests of A1/Graviton over the coming days to get a better idea for its performance, but at this point at the end of 2018 there isn't much to get excited about for these Graviton processors on EC2 as we approach the end of 2018.


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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.


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