Generational Performance Comparison: Amazon EC2’s C3 and C4 Families

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Test Methodology
  3. Why Performance Matters
  4. Performance Findings
  5. Price-Performance Comparison
  6. Key Takeaways
  7. Appendix
  8. About Cloud Spectator and Anne Liu

1. Summary

Amazon released the latest generation of its public cloud service in January 2015. Cloud Spectator recently test the Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) C4 family to evaluate any potential performance and price-performance improvements over its previous generation, the C3 family.

The results presented here indicate that the C4 virtual machines had 10 to 20 percent higher vCPU performance and approximately 6 GB/s more memory throughput than the C3 VMs across different machine sizes. However, after factoring in the price increases, the price-performance values of the C4 VMs averaged the same as the C3 VMs. Both vCPU performance levels and network throughput displayed high stability over time and across all tested machines. The results highlight Amazon’s effort to provide highly predictable performance outputs and to match its C4 family’s price-performance with that of its earlier generation C3 family.

Key findings from this report include increased performance, memory, and network throughput as outlined in the table below:

vCPU, Memory, Network Performance, and Price-Performance

Performance* Key Findings
vCPU The C4 family’s increase in integer performance over the C3 family ranged from 7% to 19% across different machine sizes. The C4 family’s increase in floating point performance over the C3 family ranged from 10% to 21% across different machine sizes. Both families displayed high stability in vCPU performance over time, with the majority of virtual machine performance variability below 1%.
Memory The C4 VMs exhibited an average memory throughput increase of approximately 6 GB/s on every machine size compared to the matching C3 VMs. There are three tiers of maximum memory throughput. The xlarge, 2xlarge and 4xlarge share a tier. The large and 8xlarge have substantially different memory throughput than the other three. Higher memory throughput fluctuations were observed on the C4 VMs than on the C3 VMs. The average performance variability of the C4 family was 9.5%, while that of the C3 family was 7.4%.
Internal Network The C4 family displayed an average of 2% increase in public network throughput and an average of 3% increase in private network throughput from the C3 family. Private network exhibited on average a 4.5% higher throughput than public network for all VM sizes except for the 8xlarge VM sizes, which doubled their throughput from public to private. Little variability was observed for both families. The C4 family showed more stable network throughput than the C3 family, with its average performance variability being 0.2% compared to the C3’s 0.7%.
Price-Performance Key Findings
(vCPU + Memory)
On average, the C4 family displayed nearly identical price-performance value as the C3 family, with an average increase of 0.15%. The C4’s large and 8xlarge instances had 4% higher, while the C4’s 2xlarge and 4xlarge instances had 3.5% lower price-performance than the C3 VMs on average. The xlarge instances from the two families were not distinguished in price-performance. The C4 VM’s processing performance was 10%-20% higher than that of the C3 VMs across different VM sizes.

*Storage Performance is not included in this report because there is no local storage on the C4 family VMs.

Source: Cloud Spectator

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