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With Mac EC2 Instances, Devs Can Now Run macOS Environments in AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) kicked off its 2020 re:Invent conference, a three-week virtual event this year, with news that its customers can now provision macOS instances in its cloud for the first time.

Announced Monday evening, the new Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Mac instances are based on AWS' Nitro hypervisor and Apple's Mac mini hardware running Intel's eighth-gen Core i7 processor at 3.2GHz.

Like the rest of AWS' instances, Mac instances can be used alongside other AWS services, including Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and others. The instances support macOS versions 10.14 and 10.15. There is currently one size available -- mac1.metal, which caps off at 12 vCPUs, 32GiB of memory, 10Gbps of throughput and 8Gbps of EBS storage.

AWS is aiming the new instances at Apple developers who want to take advantage of the ease and flexibility of the cloud to test their Mac, iPad and iPhone apps -- or basically any other app that requires the Xcode IDE. For those already using Amazon EC2 to develop for Windows and Android, AWS also notes that the Mac instances present an opportunity to "consolidate development of cross-platform" apps.

AWS evangelist Jeff Barr provided a detailed demo of the Mac instances in a blog post Monday, as well as shared some fine print. For instance: "The instances are launched as EC2 Dedicated Hosts with a minimum tenancy of 24 hours. This is largely transparent to you, but it does mean that the instances cannot be used as part of an Auto Scaling Group."

Barr also indicated that AWS plans to keep its Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) updated as Apple releases OS updates, adding, "We also plan to produce AMIs with updated Amazon packages every quarter."

AWS is also developing Mac instances for the new ARM-based Apple M1 chip, according to Barr, with release expected sometime in 2021.

Currently, the Mac instances are available in "the US East (N. Virginia), US East (Ohio), US West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland), and Asia Pacific (Singapore)" regions, with more availability planned in the future. More information, including pricing, is available here.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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