Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud division of everything-seller Amazon, has announced the launch of a custom-built 64-bit Arm processor, which it claims can drop costs by up to 45 percent for selected workloads: Graviton.

Based on technology acquired when Amazon picked up Annapurna Labs in 2016, which it had previously used only for embedded-style system-on-chip (SoC) designs for gateways, routers, and network attached storage (NAS) hardware, Graviton marks the company's first attempt to use homebrew processors in its cloud platform. While Amazon hasn't shared full technical details about the processor hardware itself, it does claim that each makes 'extensive use of custom-built silicon' and that, for selected workloads, it can reduce the cost of cloud computing by up to 45 percent compared with x86-based chips.

The company is making its Graviton parts available to AWS customers immediately, via the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) platform. Dubbed 'A1', the smallest Graviton-powered instance offers one virtual CPU (vCPU) and 2GB of RAM. From here, the offerings grow logically: a1.large offers two vCPUs and 4GB of RAM, a1.xlarge four vCPUs and 8GB, a1.2xlarge eight vCPUs and 16GB, and a1.4xlarge 16 vCPUs and 32GB.

'If your application is written in a scripting language, odds are that you can simply move it over to an A1 instance and run it as-is,' claims Amazon's Jeff Barr. 'If your application compiles down to native code, you will need to rebuild it on an A1 instance.'

'The AWS Graviton Processor powering the Amazon EC2 A1 Instances targets scale-out workloads such as web servers, caching fleets, and development workloads. These new instances feature up to 45% lower costs and will join the 170 different instance types supported by AWS,' writes AWS vice president James Hamilton in his blog post on the launch. 'I’ve been interested in Arm server processors for more than a decade so its super exciting to see the AWS Graviton finally public, it’s going to be exciting to see what customers do with the new A1 instances, and I’m already looking forward to follow-on offerings as we continue to listen to customers and enhance the world’s broadest cloud computing instance selection. There is much more coming both in Arm-based instance offerings and, more broadly, across the entire of the Amazon EC2 family.'

The new Graviton-powered A1 instances are available now in AWS EC2 US East North Virginia and Ohio, US West Oregon, and Europe Ireland regions.

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