Amazon’s ability to leave the price of the original single ECU
instance unchanged in the four years since the launch of EC2 suggests
they missed the Moore’s Law memo. In particular, Amazon’s success
owes to the invention of the ECU as a new measure of compute capacity
that clouds (pun intended) competitive comparisons.
Amazon’s Definition of ECU at http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/instance-types/
“We use several benchmarks and tests to manage the consistency and
predictability of the performance of an EC2 Compute Unit. One EC2
Compute Unit provides the equivalent CPU capacity of a 1.0-1.2 GHz
2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor. This is also the equivalent to an
early-2006 1.7 GHz Xeon processor referenced in our original
Setting aside the fact AMD did not sell a 1.0-1.2 GHZ Opteron in 2007,
Amazon’s definition falls short of the making the ECU measurable. A
“metric” that defies measurement might have been Amazon’s intention,
but it creates problems for everyone else.
Benchmarks like those run by Jason Read at cloudharmony.com show
inconsistency in Amazon’s application of the ECU with the 4 ECU High
Memory instances performing better than the 5 ECU High Compute
instance, and, similarly, the 6.5 ECU High Memory performing better
than the 8 ECU Standard Large instance. Amazon may have internal
benchmarks that do not show these discrepancies, but Amazon has so far
decided not to let its customers in on the nature of these benchmarks.
goCipher created infrastructure as a service instances
<link:http://www.domaingurus.com/ec2> replicating several of the
Amazon instances. goCipher’s adoption of Amazon instance types and
ECU’s follows the successful example of the competitive PC industry
adopting the IBM PC architecture. There exist no uncertainty about
the meaning of a GB of memory, a TB of storage, or a TB of bandwidth.
Establishing a consensus measure of ECU represents the final piece of
Gordon Moore identified the doubling of transistors in a processor
every 18 months. Moore’s Law does not necessarily apply to all the
components that go into a computer, the computer itself, or a cloud
computing offer. For example, the relatively slower decrease of DRAM
at approximately 30% per year means memory consumes an increasing
portion of the total costs. The price performance improvements of
storage tend to exceed Moore’s Law. There exists no Moore’s Law
equivalent for operating systems or software.
Reasonable people can come to different conclusions about the expected
pace of price performance improvements, but the immunity of Amazon
instance types to Moore’s Law over a four year period is not business
as usual. A reliable means of comparing cloud computing offers needs
to emerge for nascent cloud computing industry to become less chaotic.
GoCipher is the first company to directly offer Amazon instance
types, but we believe everyone in the emerging ecosystem would be
better served by quoting offers in terms of ECU’s.