Amazon Launches Elastic Kubernetes Service for Graviton2 Chips

Amazon's Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) is now supported on the Graviton2 processor, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced this week at the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU 2020 virtual event.

The Graviton processors are custom built by AWS using 64-bit Arm Neoverse N1 cores. The 7nm Graviton2 chips, which contain approximately 30 billion transistors, provide "a major leap" in performance over first-generation AWS Graviton processors, said Michael Hausenblas, a product developer advocate on the AWS container service team, in a blog post this week.

The Graviton2 processors power M6g/M6gdC6g/C6gd, and R6g/R6gd instances, and their variants with local NVMe-based SSD storage. Graviton2 supports the Large System Extensions (LSE) that improve locking and synchronization performance across large systems. It also has support for fp16 and 8-bit dot productions for machine learning, and relaxed consistency-processor consistent (RCpc) memory ordering.

These processors were designed to handle a range of workloads, Hausenblas said, such as application servers, micro-services, high-performance computing, electronic design automation, gaming, open-source databases and in-memory caches. The processors also provide enhanced performance for video encoding workloads, hardware acceleration for compression workloads, and support for CPU-based machine learning inference. The chip also includes always-on 256-bit DRAM encryption that runs 50 percent faster than the first generation.

Amazon EKS on AWS Graviton2 is generally available now where both services are supported regionally. Hausenblas provided a bulleted list to explain what that means:

  • We're supporting ARMv8.2 architecture (64 bit), amongst others.
  • End-to-end multi-architecture support.
  • Mixed managed node groups are now supported.
  • The EKS API and tooling such as eksctl take care of the architecture-specific configurations, for example, launching Arm-based control plane components such as CoreDNS or kube-proxy pods.

Amazon launched its Graviton2 processors in December 2019. They are custom-built for cloud workloads by Annapurna Labs, an Israeli-based engineering firm, which AWS acquired about five years ago. The company's investment in a second ARM-based chip advanced its custom silicon strategy and further reduced its reliance on Intel and AMD server chips.

AWS is maintaining a Git repository to help new users start using the ARM-based AWS Graviton and Graviton2 processors. "While it calls out specific features of the Graviton processors themselves, this repository is also generically useful for anyone running code on Arm," the "getting started" copy reads.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at


Subscribe on YouTube