Oracle Cloud Giving Away Ampere Arm A1 Instances Always Free

Oracle Cloud Always Free Tier Ampere A1 Cover
Oracle Cloud Always Free Tier Ampere A1 Cover

A few years ago we covered the Oracle Cloud Gets an Always Free Tier. Previously, one would get two AMD EPYC based compute VMs with 1/8 OCPU and 1GB of memory each. Let us call that what it is, not much. The bonus though is that, unlike the AWS Free Tier, this is an Always Free tier. Now, Oracle is upping the ante (significantly) with its new Ampere Arm A1 offering.

Oracle Cloud Giving Away Ampere Arm A1 Instances Always Free

Although this has been announced for some time, the Oracle Cloud Ampere Altra offering is finally live. One can see that in the list of available “shapes” we have a bare-metal machine offering. These machines each have two Ampere Altra 80 core 3.0GHz CPUs. Beyond that, there is 100Gbps networking and 1TB of memory.

Oracle Cloud A1 160C Ampere Altra 1TB Bare Metal Setup
Oracle Cloud A1 160C Ampere Altra 1TB Bare Metal Setup

Why you are likely here though is due to the virtual machine. One can see this is Always Free Eligible. We can select the Ampere instance which is on the main Shapes listing not as a “specialty” instance type. Here we can make a VM.Standard.A1.Flex instance.

Oracle Cloud Always Free Tier Ampere A1 Instance 4C 24GB RAM Setup
Oracle Cloud Always Free Tier Ampere A1 Instance 4C 24GB RAM Setup

Flex allows one to configure the amount of CPU and memory in an instance. In the Always Free tier, we get four cores and up to 24GB of memory so, in theory, we could make smaller instances. Still, we decided to go big and make one large instance.

Oracle Cloud Always Free Tier Ampere A1 Instance 4C 24GB RAM Details
Oracle Cloud Always Free Tier Ampere A1 Instance 4C 24GB RAM Details

Above, you can see the quad-core Ampere Altra (A1) Arm instance with just over 46GB of storage and 24GB of memory. The overall setup takes minutes to get running.

Final Words

To us, this is a big deal. This is perhaps one of the best “free” instances that one can get. Something that we really like about Oracle’s Always Free tier is that one can use it without being as worried about overages as with Amazon’s offering. AWS has a size advantage, but Oracle has a great Always Free Tier offering.

Beyond the free tier, the pricing on the A1 instances is very low. We get $0.01/ hr per core costs as well as $0.0015/GB per GB hour of memory.

Oracle Cloud A1 Costs
Oracle Cloud A1 Costs

That makes the instance we have, less storage, worth around $0.076/ hour. To put this another way, the Amazon AWS EC2 a1.xlarge has 4 cores and 8GB of memory for $0.102 on-demand so Oracle is offering 3x the memory at about a 25% discount over what Amazon is offering.

Expect more on this from STH in the near future. As always, you can learn more about Ampere Altra on STH.


  1. Given Oracle has a reputation for shaking down customers locked into their platform I’m not sure I would trust their “always free” tier.

  2. I’m not seeing any free Altra instances in the AD-1 region, and it appears to be difficult or impossible to change regions once selected. Perhaps Altra is only available in AD-2?

  3. I wonder what, if anything, they are doing to keep the various cryptocurrency miners at bay.

    The bigger name ones are pretty much futile on CPU at this point, with either ASICs or GPUs having taken over; but there are some targeted at CPUs, even fairly low efficiency can be attractive if you don’t have to pay for it; and that’s an application that is both too cost-sensitive to be a good upsell proposition and willing and able to absorb all the resources it possibly can.

  4. I ran a benchmark and found a 4-core Ampere A1 instance is on average about three times faster than a Raspberry Pi 4B–much better on floating point about double on integer.

    I’m looking forward to future articles about the Ampere CPU and hopefully a comparison with the Graviton2.

  5. Eric, thanks for benchmarking. Indeed rpi4 does have 1.5GHz CPU and that will keep only if you take care about its cooling. Ampere seems to be going up to 3GHz e.g. 2x the freq of rpi4b which would suggest Ampere CPU cores are about the performance of A72 cores for the classical integer workload.

  6. I am not being allowed to select Ubuntu if I want to use all 4 cpu on 1 VM. I must use oracle linux to be able to do that. That is just shady.

  7. heisenberg I don’t see how that’s shady. Shady meaning deceptive, sly, disingenuous or at least something less than you reasonably expected.

    I have always assumed that you make some compromise in return for a gift, and actually having Oracle Linux on Ampere is obviously the reason why Oracle can give us these instances, because it counts for promotion.

    I say fair play to Oracle. I suppose the fact that still they’re being accused of deceptive practice by a gift horse dentist says that it’s early days yet for any hopeful PR recruits by the lakes.

  8. Nils, in the mid nineties Oracle especially in the Oracle 6 launch window so very aggressively sold rate reset licenses to get 6 out the door and into production, that it’s a testament to the chutzpah and abilities of their once extraordinary (additional adjectives usually provided by the room) sales teams, that nobody much believed that they wouldn’t pull it off. The result however was a inevitably protestant cohort (some felt like it was a generation) of executives whose bonuses got burned when licence prices reset upwards sharply.

  9. @heisenberg you can select ubuntu for any ARM . i also thought like that at first but there is ubuntu image that support that instance

    first, select shape arm and then choose an image as Conical ubuntu version 20.04 (not minimal)

  10. So what happens after the 30-days trial period ends?
    Do I have to re-provision the “always free” A1 VM?

    According to their official docs:
    “To continue using Always Free Arm-based compute instances, you must delete your existing Ampere A1 Compute instances and create new Ampere A1 Compute instances.”

  11. People seem to be confused with “free” and “30 days” so some clarification:

    When you sign up for a free trial, you get TWO things.

    1) Some stuff that you can use FOREVER. Its yours – some server capacity, some databases, some VMs etc. As long as you are *using* it, it is there forever. If stuff sits there idle, then after a while (a week I think) it will be shutdown, and if idle for a longer time (months) then you’ll get a warning email and eventually it will be reclaimed. In a nutshell… “use it or lose it”

    2) You also get a whole lot of *other* stuff for 30 days along with some cloud credits. This means you can pretty much use *anything* that is offered on Oracle Cloud. You could fire up a monster server with bazillions of CPUs but you’ll burn those credits fast. After the 30days or credits have been consumed, these services disappear (or you can choose to switch to a paid account)…. but the free stuff in (1) is yours forever.

    Bottom Line: Unless *you* take some sort of action to switch to a paid account, you will not be charged ever for the free cloud tier on Oracle. People worry about the credit card when you sign up, but that is a verification check not a payment system – it is to stop John Doe signing up for 100,000 free accounts and running a crypto mining farm 🙂

    Hope that clarifies things.

    Full disclosure – I work for Oracle

  12. I signup to hopefully setup a mail server. They blocked port 25. So I created a ticket which I can’t because I am on the free tiers. So I upgraded my account to paid tier. Then create the ticket. Estimate was 1 day. I keep checking back and the support keep saying it is not their ticket, it is a “different” team. After a week, I asked to escalated to a manager. They tell me I should call a number. So I did. The person on the phone said I need an SR number. I gave them the number that was given to them. They said it is not the number they have. Then they forward me to a number which was not open. Go figures. People need to get rid of oracle stocks now!

  13. Hey Connor,

    Here is my appalling experience with Oracle cloud so far..

    1. I signed up with my email and chose the South Africa region. Only to find out post signup that Ampere isn’t available.
    2. I contact a live agent and ask for confirmation and he says that I just need to wait for a bit for resources to be freed
    3. I check in daily for a week – no change. So I ask a live agent how I can move regions to somewhere that Ampere is available. “Not possible”
    4. I ask how can I completely delete my account so I can recreate it (I do not juggle several emails) – again not possible
    5. I’m like surely Oracle complies with GDPR that states that on request all PII (personally identifiable information) should be deleted (that includes emails). He’s like no, we can keep it and hungs up – Now I’m in shock both from the blatantly illegal behavior and the incredible guts of that agent
    6. I connect again and ask for a manager who tries to explain why it’s kept for legal reasons so I do not create duplicate accounts and create new free trial to which I explained that I do NOT care about the trial credits and that there is no duplicate accounts involved and guess what the answer is, “Have a nice day” -> Hangs up again.

    Here’s what GDPR says (source:

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives individuals the right to ask for their data to be deleted and organisations do have an obligation to do so, except in the following cases:

    – the personal data your company/organisation holds is needed to exercise the right of freedom of expression;
    – there is a legal obligation to keep that data;
    – for reasons of public interest (for example public health, scientific, statistical or historical research purposes).

    So yeah,
    a. extremely shady and unfair as there’s no way to know what region has resources BEFORE signing up
    b. likely the worst customer service I have ever seen
    c. It’s 100% illegal from a privacy perspective.

    So be warned STH readers


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