Amazon Launches Its Most Affordable EC2 Instances Yet, But There’s A Caveat

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Amazon today launched its most affordable instances for its EC2 cloud computing service yet. Starting at just $0.013 per hour ($9.50 per month) for on-demand access (reserved instances are even cheaper), these new so-called T2 instances come with a caveat, however.

By default, they can only handle a relatively modest amount of computation. Indeed, the small t2.micro instance only runs at about 10 percent of it maximum power. Amazon, however, gives you a set number of credits per day that you can use to get full bursts of CPU power for a limited time.

For a t2.micro instance, you earn six CPU credits per hour (the t2.small and t2.medium instances get 12 and 24 credits/hour respectively). Those six credits are enough to run the instance at its 10 percent baseline performance. Sometimes, however, you don’t even need that much power, so any extra credit you don’t need is stored and you can then use that to run a process at higher speeds later in the day.

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So if you don’t use the baseline CPU for 10 hours, for example, you can then run your instance at full power for an hour (10 hours x 6 CPU credits/hour = 60 CPU credits).

Credits accumulate until they reach a day’s worth of baseline performance, but you can’t bank any additional credits on top of that.

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Unlike some of Amazon’s other instances, T2 offers a very predictable price over the course of a month and you still get the burstable performance when you need it. At $0.013 per hour, the T2 instances come in at the same price level as a low-end, shared core Google Compute engine instance. Those feature less memory but you do get access to 100 percent of their CPU power at all times.

AWS’s chief evangelist Jeff Barr also notes that these kind of instances are useful for low-traffic websites and developers who just want to run some experiments on AWS.

The idea here is clearly to appeal to developers who only need a single self-sufficient server a few times a day to run a certain business process. For them, running Amazon’s more expensive instances didn’t make sense and the company was likely losing some market share to the cheaper virtual private server offerings from Linode and Digital Ocean.

The new instances are now available in most AWS regions, with the exception of Northern California, China and the AWS GovCloud regions.