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AWS Debuts Bare-Metal EC2 Hypervisor with New I3 Instance

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has officially taken the wraps off its new bare-metal hypervisor.

Peter DeSantis, vice president of AWS Global Infrastructure, announced the EC2 Bare Metal Instances during the Tuesday night keynote of the 2017 re:Invent conference, taking place this week in Las Vegas.

Now in public preview in the form of the new i3.metal instance, also announced Tuesday, the EC2 bare-metal technology is the product of several years of development at AWS under its "Nitro" effort. The goal of that effort, as DeSantis described it, was "to make the EC2 instance indistinguishable from bare metal."

The first EC2 instance developed under Nitro was the C3, according to DeSantis. Launched at the 2013 re:Invent conference, the C3 offloaded the network processing component to the Nitro system hardware. Next was the C4, which was released the following year and offloaded storage.

However, it was the C5 instance, released just this month, that was first to offload the entire EC2 stack -- from networking and storage to management, security and monitoring -- onto dedicated hardware. Developed using technology AWS acquired in 2015 when it purchased Annapurna Labs, the C5 marked the debut of the "new EC2 hypervisor," DeSantis said.

Notably, the VMware Cloud on AWS hybrid offering, which launched in August and was updated this week, also takes advantage of this new hypervisor technology. As AWS evangelist Jeff Barr explained in a blog post, "[VMware] told us that they wanted to run their virtualization stack directly on the hardware, within the AWS Cloud, giving their customers access to the elasticity, security, and reliability (not to mention the broad array of services) that AWS offers."

Now, AWS is making its bare-metal technology accessible to the rest of its customers. The new i3.metal instance, in public preview as of Tuesday, leverages EC2 bare-metal technology to "[allow] the operating system to run directly on the underlying hardware while still providing access to all of the benefits of the cloud," according to Barr.

The i3.metal instance runs on a pair of Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 processors and comes with 512GiB of memory and 15.2TB of storage. Those interested in testing the EC2 Bare Metal Instances can sign up to preview the i3.metal instance here.

More from AWS re:Invent 2017:

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for RCPmag.com and senior editor of AWSInsider.net.

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