Amazon EC2 Performance Evolution and Implementation - Amazon EC2 Overview and Networking Introduction for Telecom Companies

Amazon EC2 Performance Evolution and Implementation

AWS has evolved its EC2 platform from the early days of cc2 instances, which used the Xen hypervisor and paravirtualization with up to 10 Gbps of throughput, to the current Nitro-based family, which scale up to 100 Gbps (and millions of pps) for the largest instance types, such as c5n.

In order to improve performance in virtualized environment, SR-IOV technology has been used to bypass the hypervisor, resulting in the first version of enhanced networking, which provided improved performance and lowered jitter and latency. C3 instance family was the first to introduce Enhanced Networking concept and more than halve the latency of its predecessor, CC2. The first release of Enhanced Networking used Intel-based chipsets (ixgbevf) and the later release was based on an in-house based solution called Enhanced Network Adapter (ENA). This is the reason why the references are made to two variants of enhanced networking:

  • Enhanced networking using Intel-based chipsets

  • Enhanced networking using AWS ENA, fully in-house developed Network Interface Card (NIC).

The C4 generation saw the introduction of the Annapurna Labs-based chipset, which replaced Intel, and this instance family provides both networking and storage-optimized performance. The overall performance limit is 10 Gbps, however, workloads requiring both storage and network optimized performance, were able to take advantage of this type of optimization and architecture.

Finally, the culmination of the performance evolution resulted in release of Nitro powered C5 instances. The switch from Intel to ENA has allowed us to deliver much better performance due to increased number of queues (8 instead of 6 with Intel-based chipsets). C5 family delivers performance of up to 25 Gbps and this limit goes to millions of pps and ~100 Gbps with the largest C5n, network optimized instances. It is important to note that chipsets are future proof to deliver performance of up to 400 Gbps.

Nitro system delivers high-speed networking with hardware offload, high-speed EBS storage with hardware offload, NVMe local storage, hardware protection/firmware verification for bare metal instances and all business logic required to control EC2 instances. In more simplified terms, Nitro system is a lightweight hypervisor combined with Nitro security chip and Nitro card for storage and networking.