Choosing the right Neptune DB instance type - Amazon Neptune

Choosing the right Neptune DB instance type

Amazon Neptune offers a number of different instance sizes and families. that offer different capabilities suited to different graph workloads. This section is meant to help you choose the best instance type for your needs.

For the pricing of each instance-type in these families, please see the Neptune pricing page.

Overview of instance resource allocation

Each Amazon EC2 instance type and size used in Neptune offers a defined amount of compute (vCPUs) and system memory. The primary storage for Neptune is external to the DB instances in a cluster, which lets compute and storage capacity scale independently of each other.

This section focuses on how the compute resources can be scaled, and on the differences between each of the various instance families.

In all instance families, vCPU resources are allocated to support two (2) query execution threads per vCPU. This support is dictated by the instance size. When determining the proper size of a given Neptune DB instance, you need to consider the possible concurrency of your application and the average latency of your queries. You can estimate the number of vCPUs needed as follows, where latency is measured as the average query latency in seconds and concurrency is measured as the target number of queries per second:

Formula for estimating vCPUs needed for an instance

SPARQL queries, openCypher queries, and Gremlin read queries that use the DFE query engine can, under certain circumstances, use more than one execution thread per query. When initially sizing your DB cluster, start with the assumption that each query will consume a single execution thread per execution and scale up if you observe back pressure into query queue. This can be observed by using the /gremlin/status, /oc/status, or /sparql/status APIs, or it can also be observed using the MainRequestsPendingRequestsQueue CloudWatch metric.

System memory on each instance is divided into two primary allocations: buffer pool cache and query execution thread memory.

Approximately two thirds of the available memory in an instance is allocated for buffer-pool cache. Buffer-pool cache is used to cache the most recently used components of the graph for faster access on queries that repeatedly access those components. Instances with a larger amount of system memory have larger buffer pool caches that can store more of the graph locally. A user can tune for the appropriate amount of buffer-pool cache by monitoring the buffer cache hit and miss metrics available in CloudWatch.

You may want to increase the size of your instance if the cache hit rate drops below 99.9% for a consistent period of time. This suggests that the buffer pool is not big enough, and the engine is having to fetch data from the underlying storage volume more often than is efficient.

The remaining third of system memory is distributed evenly across query execution threads, with some memory remaining for the operating system and a small dynamic pool for threads to use as needed. The memory available for each thread increases slightly from one instance size to the next up to an 8xl instance type, at which size the memory allocated per thread reaches a maximum.

The time to add more thread memory is when you encounter an OutOfMemoryException (OOM). OOM exceptions occur when one thread needs more than the maximum memory allocated to it (this is not the same as the entire instance running out of memory).

t3 and t4g instance types

The t3 and t4g family of instances offers a low-cost option for getting started using a graph database and also for initial development and testing. These instances are eligible for the Neptune free-tier offer, which lets new customers use Neptune at no cost for the first 750 instance hours used within a standalone AWS account or rolled up underneath an AWS Organization with Consolidated Billing (Payer Account).

The t3 and t4g instances are only offered in the medium size configuration (t3.medium and t4g.medium).

They are not intended for use in a production environment.

Because these instances have very constrained resources, they are not recommended for testing query execution time or overall database performance. To assess query performance, upgrade to one of the other instance families.

r4 family of instance types

DEPRECATED   –   The r4 family was offered when Neptune was launched in 2018, but now newer instance types offer much better price/performance. As of engine version, Neptune no longer supports r4 instance types.

r5 family of instance types

The r5 family contains memory-optimized instance types that work well for most graph use cases. The r5 family contains instance types from r5.large up to r5.24xlarge. They scale linearly in compute performance as you increase in size. For example, an r5.xlarge (4 vCPUs and 32GiB of memory) has twice the vCPUs and memory of an r5.large (2 vCPUs and 16GiB of memory), and an r5.2xlarge (8 vCPUs and 64GiB of memory) has twice the vCPUs and memory of an r5.xlarge. You can expect query performance to scale directly with compute capacity up to the r5.12xlarge instance type.

The r5 instance family has a 2-socket Intel CPU architecture. The r5.12xlarge and smaller types use a single socket and the system memory owned by that single-socket processor. The r5.16xlarge and r5.24xlarge types use both sockets and available memory. Because there's some memory-management overhead required between two physical processors in a 2-socket architecture, the performance gains scaling up from a r5.12xlarge to a r5.16xlarge or r5.24xlarge instance type are not as linear as you get scaling up at the smaller sizes.

r5d family of instance types

Neptune has a lookup-cache feature that can be used to improve the performance of queries which need to fetch and return large numbers of property values and literals. This feature is used primarily by customers with queries that need to return many attributes. The lookup cache boosts performance of these queries by fetching these attribute values locally rather than looking up each one over and over in Neptune indexed storage.

The lookup cache is implemented using a NVMe-attached EBS volume on an r5d instance type. It is enabled using a cluster's parameter group. As data is fetched from Neptune indexed storage, property values and RDF literals are cached within this NVMe volume.

If you don't need the lookup cache feature, use a standard r5 instance type rather than an r5d, to avoid the higher cost of the r5d.

The r5d family has instance types in the same sizes as the r5 family, from r5d.large to r5d.24xlarge.

r6g family of instance types

AWS has developed its own ARM-based processor called Graviton, that delivers better price/performance than the Intel and AMD equivalents. The r6g family uses the Graviton2 processor. In our testing, the Graviton2 processor offers 10-20% better performance for OLTP-style (constrained) graph queries. Larger, OLAP-ish queries, however, may be slightly less performant with the Graviton2 processors than with Intel ones owing to slightly less performant memory-paging performance.

It's also important to note that the r6g family has a single-socket architecture, which means that performance scales linearly with compute capacity from an r6g.large to an r6g.16xlarge (the largest type in the family).

r6i family of instance types

Amazon R6i instances are powered by 3rd-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors (code named Ice Lake) and are an ideal fit for memory-intensive workloads. As a general rule they offer up to 15% better compute price performance and up to 20% higher memory bandwidth per vCPU than comparable R5 instance types.

x2g family of instance types

Some graph use cases see better performance when instances have larger buffer-pool caches. The x2g family was launched to better support those use cases. The x2g family has a larger memory-to-vCPU ratio than the r5 or r6g family. The x2g instances also use the Graviton2 processor, and have many of the same performance characteristics as r6g instance types, as well as a larger buffer-pool cache.

If you're r5 or r6g instance types with low CPU utilization and a high buffer-pool cache miss rate, try using the x2g family instead. That way, you'll be getting the additional memory you neeed without paying for more CPU capacity.

serverless instance type

The Neptune Serverless feature can scale instance size dynamically based on a workload's resource needs. Instead of calculating how many vCPUs are needed for your application, Neptune Serverless lets you set lower and upper limits on compute capacity (measured in Neptune Capacity Units) for the instances in your DB cluster. Workloads with varying utilization can be cost-optimized by using serverless rather than provsioned instances.

You can set up both provisioned and serverless instances in the same DB cluster to achieve an optimal cost-performance configuration.