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Graviton (ARM) instances

Before you start

Prepare your environment for this section:

~$prepare-environment fundamentals/mng/graviton

Whether you're using On-demand or Spot instances, AWS offers 3 processor types for EC2 as well as EC2-backed EKS managed node groups. Customers have the choice of Intel, AMD, and ARM (AWS Graviton) processors. AWS Graviton processors are designed by AWS to deliver the best price performance for your cloud workloads running in Amazon EC2.

Graviton-based instances can be identified by the letter g in the Processor family section of the Instance type naming convention.

Instance type naming convention

AWS Graviton processors are built on the AWS Nitro System. AWS built the AWS Nitro System to deliver practically all of the compute and memory resources of the host hardware to your instances. This is achieved by breaking apart the hypervisor functions and management capabilities from the hosts and offloading them to dedicated hardware and software. This results in better overall performance, unlike traditional virtualization platforms that run the hypervisor software on the same physical host as the virtual machines which means the virtual machines cannot utilize 100% of the host’s resources. AWS Nitro System are supported by popular Linux operating systems along with many popular applications and services from AWS and Independent Software Vendors.

Multi-Architecture with Graviton Processors


AWS Graviton requires ARM compatible container images, ideally multi-architecture (ARM64 and AMD64) allowing cross-compatibility with both Graviton and x86 instance types.

Graviton processors enhance the EKS experience for managed node groups with instances delivering up to 20% lower cost, up to 40% better price-performance, and up to 60% less energy consumption than comparable fifth generation x86-based instances. Graviton-based EKS managed node groups launch an EC2 Auto Scaling group with Graviton processors.

Adding Graviton-based instances to your EKS managed node group introduces a multi-architecture infrastructure and the need for your application to run on different CPUs. This means your application code needs to be available in different Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) implementations. There are various resources to help teams plan and port applications to Graviton-based instances. Check out Graviton adoption plan and Porting Advisor for Graviton for useful resources.

EKS Managed Node Group with Graviton Processor

When using Graviton instances, we need to ensure that only containers built for ARM CPU architectures will be scheduled onto the Graviton instances. Here's where taints and tolerations become helpful.

Taints and Tolerations

Taints are a property of a node to repel certain pods. Tolerations are applied to pods to allow their scheduling onto nodes with matching taints. Taints and tolerations work together to ensure that pods are not scheduled on unsuitable nodes.

The configuration of tainted nodes is useful in scenarios where we need to ensure that only specific pods are to be scheduled on certain node groups with special hardware (such as Graviton-based instances or attached GPUs). In this lab exercise, we'll learn how to configure taints for our managed node groups and how to set up our applications to make use of tainted nodes running Graviton-based processors.