Instance purchasing options - Amazon EMR

Instance purchasing options

When you set up a cluster, you choose a purchasing option for Amazon EC2 instances. You can choose On-Demand Instances, Spot Instances, or both. Prices vary based on the instance type and Region. The Amazon EMR price is in addition to the Amazon EC2 price (the price for the underlying servers) and Amazon EBS price (if attaching Amazon EBS volumes). For current pricing, see Amazon EMR Pricing.

Your choice to use instance groups or instance fleets in your cluster determines how you can change instance purchasing options while a cluster is running. If you choose uniform instance groups, you can only specify the purchasing option for an instance group when you create it, and the instance type and purchasing option apply to all Amazon EC2 instances in each instance group. If you choose instance fleets, you can change purchasing options after you create the instance fleet, and you can mix purchasing options to fulfill a target capacity that you specify. For more information about these configurations, see Create a cluster with instance fleets or uniform instance groups.

On-Demand Instances

With On-Demand Instances, you pay for compute capacity by the second. Optionally, you can have these On-Demand Instances use Reserved Instance or Dedicated Instance purchasing options. With Reserved Instances, you make a one-time payment for an instance to reserve capacity. Dedicated Instances are physically isolated at the host hardware level from instances that belong to other AWS accounts. For more information about purchasing options, see Instance Purchasing Options in the Amazon EC2 User Guide.

Using Reserved Instances

To use Reserved Instances in Amazon EMR, you use Amazon EC2 to purchase the Reserved Instance and specify the parameters of the reservation, including the scope of the reservation as applying to either a Region or an Availability Zone. For more information, see Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances and Buying Reserved Instances in the Amazon EC2 User Guide. After you purchase a Reserved Instance, if all of the following conditions are true, Amazon EMR uses the Reserved Instance when a cluster launches:

  • An On-Demand Instance is specified in the cluster configuration that matches the Reserved Instance specification.

  • The cluster is launched within the scope of the instance reservation (the Availability Zone or Region).

  • The Reserved Instance capacity is still available

For example, let's say you purchase one m5.xlarge Reserved Instance with the instance reservation scoped to the US-East Region. You then launch an Amazon EMR cluster in US-East that uses two m5.xlarge instances. The first instance is billed at the Reserved Instance rate and the other is billed at the On-Demand rate. Reserved Instance capacity is used before any On-Demand Instances are created.

Using Dedicated Instances

To use Dedicated Instances, you purchase Dedicated Instances using Amazon EC2 and then create a VPC with the Dedicated tenancy attribute. Within Amazon EMR, you then specify that a cluster should launch in this VPC. Any On-Demand Instances in the cluster that match the Dedicated Instance specification use available Dedicated Instances when the cluster launches.


Amazon EMR does not support setting the dedicated attribute on individual instances.

Spot Instances

Spot Instances in Amazon EMR provide an option for you to purchase Amazon EC2 instance capacity at a reduced cost as compared to On-Demand purchasing. The disadvantage of using Spot Instances is that instances may terminate if Spot capacity becomes unavailable for the instance type you are running. For more information about when using Spot Instances may be appropriate for your application, see When should you use Spot Instances?.

When Amazon EC2 has unused capacity, it offers EC2 instances at a reduced cost, called the Spot price. This price fluctuates based on availability and demand, and is established by Region and Availability Zone. When you choose Spot Instances, you specify the maximum Spot price that you're willing to pay for each EC2 instance type. When the Spot price in the cluster's Availability Zone is below the maximum Spot price specified for that instance type, the instances launch. While instances run, you're charged at the current Spot price not your maximum Spot price.


Spot Instances with a defined duration (also known as Spot blocks) are no longer available to new customers from July 1, 2021. For customers who have previously used the feature, we will continue to support Spot Instances with a defined duration until December 31, 2022.

For current pricing, see Amazon EC2 Spot Instances Pricing. For more information, see Spot Instances in the Amazon EC2 User Guide. When you create and configure a cluster, you specify network options that ultimately determine the Availability Zone where your cluster launches. For more information, see Configure networking.


You can see the real-time Spot price in the console when you hover over the information tooltip next to the Spot purchasing option when you create a cluster using Advanced Options. The prices for each Availability Zone in the selected Region are displayed. The lowest prices are in the green-colored rows. Because of fluctuating Spot prices between Availability Zones, selecting the Availability Zone with the lowest initial price might not result in the lowest price for the life of the cluster. For optimal results, study the history of Availability Zone pricing before choosing. For more information, see Spot Instance Pricing History in the Amazon EC2 User Guide.

Spot Instance options depend on whether you use uniform instance groups or instance fleets in your cluster configuration.

Spot Instances in uniform instance groups

When you use Spot Instances in a uniform instance group, all instances in an instance group must be Spot Instances. You specify a single subnet or Availability Zone for the cluster. For each instance group, you specify a single Spot Instance and a maximum Spot price. Spot Instances of that type launch if the Spot price in the cluster's Region and Availability Zone is below the maximum Spot price. Instances terminate if the Spot price is above your maximum Spot price. You set the maximum Spot price only when you configure an instance group. It can't be changed later. For more information, see Create a cluster with instance fleets or uniform instance groups.

Spot Instances in instance fleets

When you use the instance fleets configuration, additional options give you more control over how Spot Instances launch and terminate. Fundamentally, instance fleets use a different method than uniform instance groups to launch instances. The way it works is you establish a target capacity for Spot Instances (and On-Demand Instances) and up to five instance types. You can also specify a weighted capacity for each instance type or use the vCPU (YARN vcores) of the instance type as weighted capacity. This weighted capacity counts toward your target capacity when an instance of that type is provisioned. Amazon EMR provisions instances with both purchasing options until the target capacity for each target is fulfilled. In addition, you can define a range of Availability Zones for Amazon EMR to choose from when launching instances. You also provide additional Spot options for each fleet, including a provisioning timeout. For more information, see Configure instance fleets.