New Amazon AWS Z1d EC2 Frequency Optimized Instances

Intel Data Center New Section 1.06 PUE Hot Aisle in Progress
Intel Data Center New Section 1.06 PUE Hot Aisle in Progress

Amazon AWS EC2 offerings are so extensive that they can offer specialized instances built on hardware that is designed to specific use cases. An example of this is the new AWS Z1d EC2 instances that feature higher frequency CPUs for a variety of workloads that require fast cores. This is the second part of an announcement that also encompassed the AWS R5 EC2 instances for high memory applications we covered previously.

Amazon AWS Z1d EC2 Frequency Optimized Instances

Amazon said that the new AWS Z1d EC2 frequency optimized instances will be using Intel Xeon Scalable processors with 4.0GHz sustained all core turbo boost. The instances are not available so we do not have pricing information nor do we have access to check the CPU model number. Intel has the TDP headroom to go over 205W in high core count high clock speed CPUs, which will be Cascade Lake in the second generation of Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs. The instances will come with up to 48 vCPUs and 1.8TB NVMe SSDs (2x 900GB) of storage. Networking will be ENA with up to 25Gbps network bandwidth and up to 14Gbps EBS.

In the announcement, AWS highlighted some of the key features of the AWS Z1d EC2 instances.

Instance Name vCPUs Memory Local Storage EBS-Optimized Bandwidth Network Bandwidth
z1d.large 2 16 GiB 1 x 75 GB NVMe SSD Up to 2.333 Gbps Up to 10 Gbps
z1d.xlarge 4 32 GiB 1 x 150 GB NVMe SSD Up to 2.333 Gbps Up to 10 Gbps
z1d.2xlarge 8 64 GiB 1 x 300 GB NVMe SSD 2.333 Gbps Up to 10 Gbps
z1d.3xlarge 12 96 GiB 1 x 450 GB NVMe SSD 3.5 Gbps Up to 10 Gbps
z1d.6xlarge 24 192 GiB 1 x 900 GB NVMe SSD 7.0 Gbps 10 Gbps
z1d.12xlarge 48 384 GiB 2 x 900 GB NVMe SSD 14.0 Gbps 25 Gbps

In the press release, AWS highlighted that the EC2 Z1d instances are designed for Electronic Design Automation (EDA), high-performance computing (HPC), and relational database applications. EDA, common in semiconductor industries, is known to scale well among many high-frequency cores. Here is part of Intel’s EDA cluster in Santa Clara that we highlighted in Inside the Intel Data Center at its Santa Clara Headquarters and its Super Computer.

Intel Data Center HP Quanta Dell
Intel Data Center HP Quanta Dell EDA Cluster like AWS Z1d EC2 Application Targets

The relational database world is known for high per-core licensing costs. We talk about these in our reviews for Intel’s frequency optimized parts e.g.:

Cloud customers that want to bring licenses to AWS can get better per-core licensing and more performance from higher speed cores.

Final Words

This is an inevitable march. As cloud providers such as Amazon AWS grow, they are moving away from cookie-cutter offerings and instead offering differentiated hardware. Although general purpose high core count CPUs are great, there are applications where lower core counts and higher clock speeds are more appropriate and the AWS Z1d EC2 instances support this.


  1. 4x Xeon Gold 6146(standard 3.9 GHz all core on 12cores each) can deliver this with the proper cooling.
    165 TDP on 3.2 GHz all-core. 4 GHz will be around 250 watt each, makes 250×4 = 1 kW (cpu’s only).

  2. Maybe when you’re moving to the cloud anyways it’s time to re-think the reliance on overly expensive database products and look at open source alternatives. Otherwise, what’s the gain? Especially since the vendors usually try to nip these kinds of mitigation strategies in the bud.


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