Amazon EBS Volume Performance on Linux Instances
Several factors, including I/O characteristics and the configuration of your instances and volumes, can affect the performance of Amazon EBS. Customers who follow the guidance on our Amazon EBS and Amazon EC2 product detail pages typically achieve good performance out of the box. However, there are some cases where you may need to do some tuning in order achieve peak performance on the platform. This topic discusses general best practices as well as performance tuning that is specific to certain use cases. We recommend that you tune performance with information from your actual workload, in addition to benchmarking, to determine your optimal configuration. After you learn the basics of working with EBS volumes, it's a good idea to look at the I/O performance you require and at your options for increasing Amazon EBS performance to meet those requirements.
For more information, see Amazon EBS Volume Performance on Linux Instances in the Amazon EC2 User Guide for Linux Instances.
Amazon EBS Performance Tips
These tips represent best practices for getting optimal performance from your EBS volumes in a variety of user scenarios.
Use EBS-Optimized Instances
On instances without support for EBS-optimized throughput, network traffic can contend with traffic between your instance and your EBS volumes; on EBS-optimized instances, the two types of traffic are kept separate. Some EBS-optimized instance configurations incur an extra cost (such as C3, R3, and M3), while others are always EBS-optimized at no extra cost (such as M4, C4, and D2). For more information, see Amazon EC2 Instance Configuration.
Understand How Performance is Calculated
When you measure the performance of your EBS volumes, it is important to understand the units of measure involved and how performance is calculated. For more information, see I/O Characteristics.
Understand Your Workload
There is a relationship between the maximum performance of your EBS volumes, the size and number of I/O operations, and the time it takes for each action to complete. Each of these factors (performance, I/O, and latency) affects the others, and different applications are more sensitive to one factor or another. For more information, see Benchmark EBS Volumes.
Be Aware of the Performance Penalty When Initializing Volumes from Snapshots
There is a significant increase in latency when you first access each block of data on a new EBS volume that was restored from a snapshot. You can avoid this performance hit by accessing each block prior to putting the volume into production. This process is called initialization (formerly known as pre-warming). For more information, see Initializing Amazon EBS Volumes.
Factors That Can Degrade HDD Performance
When you create a snapshot of a Throughput Optimized HDD (
st1) or Cold HDD (
performance may drop as far as the volume's baseline value while the snapshot is in
progress. This behavior is specific to these volume types. Other factors that can limit
performance include driving more throughput than the instance can support, the performance
penalty encountered while initializing volumes restored from a snapshot, and excessive
amounts of small, random I/O on the volume. For more information about calculating
throughput for HDD volumes, see Amazon EBS
Volume Types .
Your performance can also be impacted if your application isn’t sending enough I/O requests. This can be monitored by looking at your volume’s queue length and I/O size. The queue length is the number of pending I/O requests from your application to your volume. For maximum consistency, HDD-backed volumes must maintain a queue length (rounded to the nearest whole number) of 4 or more when performing 1 MiB sequential I/O. For more information about ensuring consistent performance of your volumes, see I/O Characteristics
Increase Read-Ahead for High-Throughput, Read-Heavy Workloads on
Some workloads are read-heavy and access the block device through the operating system page cache (for example, from a file system). In this case, to achieve the maximum throughput, we recommend that you configure the read-ahead setting to 1 MiB. This is a per-block-device setting that should only be applied to your HDD volumes. The following examples assume that you are on an Amazon Linux instance.
To examine the current value of read-ahead for your block devices, use the following command:
sudo blockdev --report /dev/
Block device information is returned in the following format:
RO RA SSZ BSZ StartSec Size Device rw 256 512 4096 4096 8587820544 /dev/<device>
The device shown reports a read-ahead value of 256 bytes (the default). Multiply this number by the sector size (512 bytes) to obtain the size of the read-ahead buffer, which in this case is 128 KiB. To set the buffer value to 1 MiB, use the following command:
sudo blockdev --setra 2048 /dev/
Verify that the read-ahead setting now displays 2,048 by running the first command again.
Only use this setting when your workload consists of large, sequential I/Os. If it
consists mostly of small, random I/Os, this setting will actually degrade your performance.
In general, if your workload consists mostly of small or random I/Os, you should consider
using a General Purpose SSD (
gp2) volume rather than
Use a Modern Linux Kernel
Use a modern Linux kernel with support for indirect descriptors. Any Linux kernel 3.8 and above has this support, as well as any current-generation EC2 instance. If your average I/O size is at or near 44 KiB, you may be using an instance or kernel without support for indirect descriptors. For information about deriving the average I/O size from Amazon CloudWatch metrics, see I/O Characteristics.
To achieve maximum throughput on
sc1 volumes for any Linux kernel 4.2 and
above, we recommend setting the
xen_blkfront.max parameter to 256. This
parameter can be set in your OS boot command line. For example, in an Amazon Linux AMI, you can add
it to the end of the kernel line in the GRUB configuration found in
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-4.4.5-15.26.amzn1.x86_64 root=LABEL=/ console=ttyS0 xen_blkfront.max=256
Reboot your instance for this setting to take effect.
For more information, see Configuring GRUB. Other Linux distributions, especially those that do not use the GRUB bootloader, may require a different approach to adjusting the kernel parameters.
For more information about EBS I/O characteristics, see the Amazon EBS: Designing for Performance re:Invent presentation on this topic.
Use RAID 0 to Maximize Utilization of Instance Resources
Some instance types can drive more I/O throughput than what you can provision for a
single EBS volume. You can join multiple
sc1 volumes together in a
RAID 0 configuration to use the available bandwidth for these instances. For more
information, see RAID Configuration on Linux.
Track Performance with Amazon CloudWatch
Amazon Web Services provides performance metrics for Amazon EBS that you can analyze and view with Amazon CloudWatch and status checks that you can use to monitor the health of your volumes. For more information, see Monitoring the Status of Your Volumes.