Launched during the recent Re:Invent conference, Graviton3 forms the next generation of AWS’ own Arm-compatible server processors. They use “up to 60% less energy” and deliver a 3x performance boost for “CPU-based machine learning workloads”.

So why are Graviton3 processors better, how do they work, and are they worth the hype? But before we analyze these questions, let’s start with the basics.

What are Graviton3 server processors?

A series of server processors created by AWS for customers of Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) virtual machine instances, AWS Graviton3 supports “a broad spectrum of compute-intensive workloads, including application servers, micro services, high-performance computing, electronic design automation, gaming, media encoding, or CPU-based ML inference”.

AWS Graviton3 is more energy- and cost-efficient, and provides a great compute performance boost. It provides a significant improvement in the range of choices available for customers in selecting EC2 instances, while delivering better server performance, availability and security, and lower costs.

AWS Graviton3 is the cutting-edge of open-source Arm architecture-based server processors, and delivers a performance boost of 25 to 300 percent over Graviton2 processors, depending on the usecase (3x performance boost for machine learning workloads).

For the first time in cloud history, the new C7g instances powered by Graviton3 processors are equipped with DDR5 memory, which offers 50 percent more bandwidth than the previous DDR4 memory option.

The evolution of AWS Graviton processors

In 2018, AWS felt they were getting over-dependent on third-party vendors for their server processors. Rather than depend on the innovation of chip majors like Intel or AMD, they chose to develop processors in-house. AWS Graviton processors were launched in 2018 using open-source Arm architecture. Arm’s pointer authentication mechanisms provide an extra layer of security. AWS Graviton processors were designed to specifically suit the way that AWS works and deliver the best price performance for Amazon EC2 instances.

Over time, the first generation Graviton processors proved their benefits over X86 processors. Though they were seen as struggling to catch up to the big players in the chip industry, the first-generation processors consumed less power when used to power EC2 instances, than the X86-based server processors developed by competitors.

By the time the second generation came around, further significant improvements were made in terms of performance and capabilities of the AWS Graviton2 processor. “Graviton2-based instances support a wide range of general purpose, burstable, compute-optimized, memory-optimized, storage-optimized, and accelerated computing workloads including application servers, microservices, high-performance computing (HPC), CPU-based machine learning (ML) inference, video encoding, electronic design automation, gaming, open-source databases, and in-memory caches.” A number of AWS services support Graviton2-based instances, which delivers great price benefits over Graviton, and a fully managed experience.

Up to 3X better performance with Graviton3 server processors

Currently, AWS Graviton is in its third generation. “[Graviton3 processors] provide up to 25% better compute performance, up to 2x higher floating-point performance, and up to 2x faster cryptographic workload performance … [they] deliver up to 3x better performance compared to AWS Graviton2 processors for ML workloads, including support for bfloat16.” Graviton3 processors support DDR5 memory, which provides “50% more memory bandwidth compared to DDR4”.

Benefits of AWS Graviton3

Up to 60% energy savings

When you run your business’ workloads on AWS cloud, you can significantly lower your carbon footprint (when compared to an on-premises data center). That’s because AWS focuses on efficiency and continuous innovation in all aspects of its global infrastructure, uses more efficient power and cooling systems, and is moving towards 100% usage of renewable energy for all its operations.

If you are looking for ways to adopt sustainable practices into your business and data architecture, AWS offers a number of tools to help, including “Amazon Cloud Watch for easy monitoring and optimization across tools [Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) and Amazon EMR]” and others.

[Read more about AWS and cloud sustainability with our recent article: Tracking cloud carbon emission with AWS]

A great way to optimize workloads is by using Graviton3-based instances. Since they are more efficient, fewer instances are required to run the same workload, reducing the cloud resources utilized. “Graviton3-based instances use up to 60% less energy for the same performance than comparable [X86-based] EC2 instances”. Using Graviton3, you can reduce your carbon footprint and achieve a much better “performance per watt of energy use” in Amazon EC2.

Great for industries with compute-intensive workloads

Graviton3 processors were created with the intention to power compute-intensive workloads. They’re suitable to improve the performance of mass data processing and reduce the infrastructure cost of lightweight web application infrastructure. Graviton3 delivers “up to 25 percent higher performance, up to 2x higher floating-point performance, and 50 percent faster memory access based on leading-edge DDR5 memory technology compared with Graviton2 processors”.

Graviton3 is more stable in the face of traffic spikes. EC2 instances powered by Graviton3 also gain scalability, security and a wider range of choices – most important when the workloads are compute-heavy and business-critical.

Better price performance

AWS Graviton processors are pegged by AWS as offering the best price performance for Amazon EC2 instances. There are three ways in which Graviton3 processors offer superior price performance:

Better performance

Since Graviton offers better performance, CPU utilization reduces and thus, so does the total cost of ownership for the EC2 instances. One AWS client realized 87% TCO savings by moving from X86-based instances to Graviton-based instances.

AWS Graviton2-based EC2 instances offer up to 40% better price performance over current generation X86-based instances, for a wide range of high-performance computing, green computing, CPU-heavy and memory-intensive workloads. Since the Graviton3 processor offers up to 300 percent better compute performance than the Graviton2, price performance in the long-term is projected to be the same.

Flexible coding

Most application languages and most open-source software services support Graviton instances. This means the cost of various instances reduces with a drop in development cost. In addition, the Graviton3 server processor allows you to reuse code written based on common business logic for desktop and mobile applications.

Seamless migration

Migration from other server processors to Graviton is seamless, with almost no code changes required. This reduces the time and cost associated with development and migration.

A caveat…

Graviton processors are not currently supported by Windows. This is something to be kept in mind when choosing your server processors.

Graviton3 – Industries and usecases

Graviton3 is a must-have for certain industries, especially those with compute-heavy workloads. Some usecases include:

  • video encoding and transcoding (industries such as Media and Entertainment);
  • extremely fast data processing and storage (industries such as Energy Exploration and Production);
  • virtual desktop applications and virtualization software (industries like Desktop and Application Virtualization);
  • high-performance, green computing (industries such as Engineering Simulation and Design);
  • imagery processing and heavy data processing (industries like Agricultural Services)

So how do you get started?

Speak to an AWS Graviton Ready Partner to discuss how to move forward. The AWS Graviton Ready Program empowers AWS Partners with a range of software products and solutions to build, integrate, deploy, monitor, support and secure Graviton-based Amazon EC2 instances. “These solutions have been technically validated by AWS for their sound architecture and proven customer success”, and are ready to integrate with all AWS services. This makes moving to Graviton-powered instances easier.

AWS Graviton Ready Partners vet the solutions available to help you validate, optimize and support applications of their choice on Graviton-based instances. By leveraging the right solutions, Graviton users gain a consistent experience on Graviton instances as on others. This provides parity for customers to choose the right EC2 instance for their workloads by optimizing price and operation performance.

With Graviton3-powered EC2 instances, you can improve the performance of your application and reduce total cost of ownership. Ziffity acts as a tech partner for businesses interested in migrating their workloads to the cloud. Allow us to help you on your AWS journey.

Frequently asked questions

Sustainability is very important to me. Would Graviton3 be suitable for the requirement?

Yes, it would. Graviton is a great boon for those with a requirement for high-performance computing and green computing. High-performance computing clusters powered by AWS Graviton3-powered EC2 instances provide top performance-per-watt, which makes computing more energy efficient and also reduces the number of instances to be used.

Is Graviton3 significantly better than Graviton2?

Yes, Graviton3 has shown up to 3x improvement in performance over Graviton2 processors, depending on the workloads being run. Twitter found that “Graviton3-based C7g instances deliver as much as 80% higher performance vs. Graviton2-based C6g instances, while also reducing tail latencies by as much as 35%.”