Amazon Web Services Launches SSD-Based, General-Purpose Storage Volumes For EBS

Just one day after Google launched its SSD-based persistent storage volumes for its Cloud Platform, Amazon today announced a very similar service for its users. With its new General Purpose SSD volumes, Amazon now offers a middle tier between its standard hard-disk-based storage options for its Elastic Block Store (EBS) and its more expensive Provisioned IOPS volumes, which already used SSDs.

Elastic Block Store is Amazon’s service for creating persistent storage volumes that can then be used with its EC2 cloud computing instances.

Unlike the Provisioned IOPS volumes, the new General Purpose (SSD) disks, as Amazon calls them, do not feature any additional or upfront charges for input/output. Prices start at $0.10 per gigabyte per month in Amazon’s Oregon and Virginia data centers. Prices in other regions are somewhat higher but still lower than the $0.325/GB/month Google charges for its SSD-backed volumes.

Amazon promises that this storage type can handle bursts of up to 3,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) per volume for up to 30 minutes, independent of the volume size. The Provisioned IOPS volumes can be connected to support up to 48,000 IOPS, but that’s probably overkill for most applications. The new general-purpose volumes were built on the same technology stack the company created for Provisioned IOPS.


Amazon notes, the SSD-based volumes can handle about 10x more IOPS than its hard disk-based solution, with 1/10th the latency and more consistent performance. The company specifically notes that because every newly created SSD-backed volume is automatically provisioned with the 3,000 IOPS burst allocation, booting from them should take less than half the time compared to booting from a magnetic disk.

“With the introduction of EBS General Purpose (SSD) volumes today, SSD technology can now be applied to a much broader range of use cases at a lower cost while also delivering high IOPS, low latency, and high bandwidth,” said Peter De Santis, Amazon’s VP for Compute at Amazon Web Services, in a statement today.

It looks like Amazon is hoping to turn these new SSD-based general purpose volumes into the standard options for developers. The former “Standard” hard-disk-based storage volumes are now called “EBS Magnetic volumes.”

When Google launched its SSD persistent disks yesterday, the company specifically noted that it wanted to keep the pricing simple and wouldn’t charge any extra fees per input/output operations. It’s probably no coincidence that Amazon now also offers this new service with a simple flat fee. Developers have long complained about Amazon’s complicated pricing structure, so maybe today’s announcement signals a move towards more services that only charge a single fee.