1 TB of Memory in 1 Minute with 1 Command


Amazon Web Services just announced the release of two new instance types for EC2. These new types have 34.2 GB and 68.4 GB of RAM with a decent amount of CPU capacity on modern CPUs to go along with it.

Others have already done a great job of describing the instance types:

Jeff Barr’s AWS blog

RightScale’s blog

but when it comes to flexing the raw power at my fingertips with AWS, sometimes I can’t help myself. So…

sitting on my couch with my laptop watching an episode of “Lie to me” on TiVo I just typed:

ec2-run-instances              --instance-type m2.4xlarge   --key KEYPAIR                --instance-count 19          ami-e6f6158f

and in under a minute and about $45 later, I had ssh access to well over 1 TB (1,000 GB) of free memory. To be sure, it was spread over 19 Ubuntu servers, but still, there’s gotta be something I can do with that, no?

Here are the results on a single one of these servers running Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy:

root@domU-12-31-39-08-7F-51:~# free
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:      71687580    1521464   70166116          0       2632      17704
-/+ buffers/cache:    1501128   70186452
Swap:            0          0          0

root@domU-12-31-39-08-7F-51:~# free -g
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:            68          1         66          0          0          0
-/+ buffers/cache:          1         66
Swap:            0          0          0

Wait, I’d better do whatever I’m gonna do quick or I’m going to be charged another $45.60 for the next hour’s worth of fun!

Ok, time to cut my losses:

ec2-describe-instances | 
  egrep m2.4xlarge | 
  cut -f2 | 
  xargs ec2-terminate-instances

In case you didn’t feel like spending $2.40 to find out the CPUs on one of these beasts, here’s one of the ones I ran:

vendor_id   : GenuineIntel
cpu family  : 6
model       : 26
model name  : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU           X5550  @ 2.67GHz
stepping    : 5
cpu MHz     : 2666.760
cache size  : 8192 KB
bogomips    : 5203.00

And remember that there’s 8 of these on the m2.4xlarge instance size. (Exact CPUs not guaranteed, your results my vary, etc.)

Amazon Web Services seems to keep releasing new features in advance of when our growing startup needs them. As we start to think about whether we are going to need to trim some tables or split up the database, here comes an instance type that will let us grow a lot longer just focusing on our core business challenges instead of on the infrastructure.


Hey Eric,

I also could not resist to launch an m2.4xlarge instance to check the CPUs.

I forgot to actually count them though, is it really only 8? Does that mean that they have disabled simultaneous multi-threading in the CPUs? Otherwise, the OS should see 16 CPUs for the 2 dual quad cores in the m2.4xlarge machine.


This is great, we're all thankful for your work.

I've built some auto-sizing memcached AMIs from your ubuntu bases. If you use ami-76f91a1f you'll find that it automatically creates instances with 72870789120 bytes of memcached 1.4.2 (latest version as of today).

A list of the memcached AMIs we've built (most, but not all from Alestic bases) can be found here: http://labs.northscale.com/memcached-ami/

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