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Thoughts on the AWS GP3 Offering

I recently published a post about AWS’s io2 Block Express on LinkedIn. After reading it, a friend called me — yes, he actually called me on the phone! — to ask me what my thoughts are about the new GP3 offering announced during re:invent alongside the io2 Block Express offering. And I thought it would be a good idea to share them with you as well.

For those of you who don’t know, GP stands for “general purpose”. According to AWS, the recent addition of this category of storage devices is “ideal for a wide variety of applications that require high performance at low cost”, allowing for a max of 16,000 IOPS and 1,000MB/s. The biggest differentiator between GP2 and GP3 is the fact that AWS is allowing us to grow capacity and performance separately, like they do with the “io” device line. For GP2 devices, you start with a 100 IOPS base and grow linearly — 1 IOPS per GB to the same maximum limit of 16,000 IOPS. For GP3, IOPS are provisioned separately from storage capacity, and we start off with a whopping 3000 IOPS.

Now, I do very much like this decoupling but is this really a solution for our most demanding applications? Not really, no. It is a way to reduce the cost of GP2, but not much more than that.

If your application is disk bound, there is more to consider. For one, with “single digit latency”, latency is still something from the spinning disk era and is not nearly as low as one would expect from an SSD device. In addition, your application is still siloed in a 16 (K IOPS) by 16 (TB) tower. If your app can horizontally scale and was not disk bound, you may be OK. But if it is not, then GP3 might not be the answer.

Lastly, we come to the subject of cost. GP3 is indeed cheaper than GP2. For the Mumbai region (ap-south-1), for example, a fully charged GP3 16TB drive would set you back $1,607/month representing a $260 discount from the cost of a 16TB GP2. At this cost for a single device, without snapshot protection, replication or anything else, all we get really is a small discount from the GP2 price, nothing more.

Interesting in getting real performance for any application on any cloud – whether private or public? Contact me and the rest of my friends at Silk to learn more.