Amazon EC2 Instance Types Explained

Deconstructing EC2 Families & Instance Types

AWS offers nearly 300 EC2 instance types across five EC2 instance families, each with varying resource and performance focuses.

In this video, Densify’s experts summarize the strengths of the most commonly-used EC2 instance types and offer guidelines on how to identify the EC2 instance that provides the best resources for your application workload for the lowest price.

EC2 Families Overview

Commonly-Used Amazon EC2 Instance Families
Instance Types Suitibility Memory & CPU
M3, M4, M5, & M5a General purpose family suitable for a wide range of applications from databases to servers 4:1 memory to vCPU ratio
C3, C4, C5, & C5a Compute intensive family offering superior performance for compute workloads, ideal for HPC, web servers, gaming, and analytics 2:1 memory to vCPU ratio
R3, R4, R5, & R5a Memory intensive family geared towards applications like high performance databases, in-memory caching, and big data analytics 8:1 memory to vCPU ratio
Z1d Offers a balance between R5 and C5 instance types, ideal for electronic design automation and databases with high software license costs per core 8:1 memory to vCPU ratio
T2, T3, & T3a Burstable family suitable for workloads that are spikey in nature: VDIs, small databases, and frequently, for dev environments Accumulate credits while operating under baseline CPU performance levels that can be leveraged when bursting

Other EC2 Instance Selection Considerations

In addition to selecting the right EC2 instance type, other resourcing considerations include:

  • Chipsets: Intel Xeon versus AMD EPYC versus AWS Graviton
  • Sizing: What is the instance or scaling group sizing needed to meet minimum service requirements?
  • Pricing strategy: On-Demand versus Savings Plans versus Reserved Instances
  • Software: Custom Amazon Machine Instances (AMIs) versus pre-baked AMIs
  • Deployment region

EC2 Instance Selection at Enterprise Scale

Properly resourcing your application workload requires precise selection of EC2 instance family and sizing—choices that demand you balance performance, stability, and cost.

Skilled cloud infrastructure managers make these choices every day, and although it is possible to run infrastructure at scale without EC2 management, the cumulative impact of best-guess instance selection always leaves performance, stability, and cost savings gains on the table—sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Additionally, due to continuous service and instance releases across all the cloud providers, it is very difficult to keep up with the latest technology—there can be millions of possible instance configuration possibilities for each of your workloads.

Finally, once an application is up and running in the cloud, it can be difficult to justify manually-determined infrastructure optimizations to those responsible for business delivery of the app.

EC2 Management with Densify

Densify addresses enterprise EC2 management concerns:

  1. Our optimization engine machine learns your workload’s actual requirements and recommends the optimal EC2 instance family type. quantity, fit and configuration, eliminating waste in your cloud
  2. Densify’s recommendation engine considers EC2 and other service offerings across all the major cloud providers, ensuring you can always leverage the latest and greatest infrastructure
  3. Each recommendation is accompanied by a detailed impact analysis report, useful for justifying changes to underlying infrastructure to application owners
  4. Densify integrates with your ITSM and CI/CD tooling and frameworks, enabling our precise recommendations to be easily actioned and even automated

Get Started Managing Hybrid Cloud Resources with Densify