VMC New Host -i3en

VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC) has introduced a new host to its lineup the “i3en”. This is based on the i3en.metal AWS instance.

The specifications are certainly impressive packing in 96 logical cores, 768GiB RAM, and approximately 45.84 TiB of NVMe raw storage capacity per host.

It’s certainly a monster with a 266% uplift in CPU, 50% increase in RAM and a whopping 440% increase in raw storage per host compared to the i3. Most of the engagements I have worked on so far have discovered that they are storage limited requiring extra hosts to handle the required storage footprint. With such a big uplift in Storage capacity hopefully, this will trend towards filling up CPU, RAM & Storage at the same time. This is the panacea of Hyperconvergence.

The other two noticeable changes are that the processor is based on a much later Intel family. It is now based on 3.1 GHz all-core turbo Intel® Xeon® Scalable (Skylake) processors. This is a much more modern processor than the Broadwell’s in the original i3. This brings several processor extension improvements including Intel AVX, Intel AVX2, Intel AVX-512

The other noticeable change is the networking uplift with 100Gb/s available to each host.

Model pCPU Memory GiB Networking Gbps Storage TB AWS Host Pricing (On-demand in US-East-2 Ohio)
i3.metal 36* 512 25 8×1.9 $5.491
i3en.metal 96 768 100 8×7.5 $11.933

*The i3.metal instance, when used with VMware Cloud on AWS has hyperthreading disabled.

At present this host is only available in the newer SDDC versions (1.10v4 or later) and in limited locations.

It also looks like the i3 still has to be the node used in the first cluster within the SDDC (where the management components reside) and they aren’t supported in 2 node clusters.

At the time of writing pricing from VMware is not available however pricing is available for the hosts if they were bought directly from AWS. Assuming the VMware costs fall broadly in line with this giving:

VMware have now released pricing. The below is for On-Demand in the AWS US-East region.

i3.Metal is £6.213287 per hour & i3en.Metal £13.6221 per hour giving:

  • A cost per GB of SSD instance storage that is up to 50% lower
  • Storage density (GB per vCPU) that is roughly 2.6x greater
  • Ratio of network bandwidth to vCPUs that is up to 2.7x greater

This new host type adds an additional complication to choosing host types within VMware Cloud on AWS but makes it a very compelling solution.