Welcome to The Long View—where we peruse the news of the week and strip it to the essentials. Let’s work out what really matters.
This week: Three things that caught my eye from Amazon Web Services’ re:Invent 2021 conference: Private 5G, Graviton3 chips, and something called DevOps Guru for RDS (yes, really).
Private NRaaS vs. Wi-Fi
First up this week: AWS Private 5G is a new turnkey service, offering local private cellular data infrastructure, for places where Wi-Fi just doesn’t cut it. Despite the name, it offers a 4G/LTE fallback to 5G/NR. Because it’s AWS, the hardware is free—you just pay for usage.
Analysis: Combine with an Outpost for a sharper edge
Wi-Fi is unreliable and low powered. 5G over the 3.5 GHz “citizens’ band” seems like a great alternative (just don’t tell the lunatic fringe of the anti-5G brigade).
And, of course, AWS makes it easy to buy—Amazon ships you all the private radio gubbins for “free” and just bills you based on capacity and usage. It’s automatically configured and remotely maintained. You just take your internet connection and plug it in.
Aisha Malik: Amazon launches preview of new AWS Private 5G managed service
“AWS Private 5G” … is a new service that aims to make it easy to deploy and manage your own private network. … AWS CEO Adam Selipsky said that with AWS Private 5G, you can set up and scale a private mobile network in days instead of months.
There are no upfront fees or per-device costs: … Customers pay only for the network capacity and throughput they request. [It] scales capacity on-demand.
AWS Private 5G is available in preview in the United States.
And this is better than Wi-Fi how, exactly? Ballu counts the ways:
Industrial area coverage: Where you need 50 Wi-Fi radio units, you can provide service with 3–4 p4G/p5G radios.
Hazardous areas: Where you can’t provide the networking at all the corners or areas, one p5G radio blast area (esp with beam technology) can.
Packet loss: Less packet loss compared to Wi-Fi (believe me, it’s a big deal in the Industrial world)
Compatibility: What’s a negative for 5G modems (not many devices are available), is positive to some extent. Once investment is made with 5G modems, the devices can be on the road too.
Unsurprisingly, Brian Roemmele feels vindicated:
Precisely as I wrote about in 2017 to great ridicule from an analyst at a famous VC firm: Amazon is becoming a phone company.
From the Sidewalk Network to the Kuiper satellite system to local 5G. The network is no longer just “dumb pipes.”
Graviton3: AWS ARM SoC is PDQ
Graviton3 is the latest version of Amazon’s ARM server chip. It looks like it’s based on a 5nm process implementing the latest ARMv9 ISA. AWS is making the usual claims about it being much faster than the previous generation, but it also has new security features.
Analysis: Cool chips
AWS is deadly serious about low-power, high-performance compute. Amazon is just one licensee that would be distressed to have Nvidia owning Arm.
As I said last week—and the week before that—ARM chips are an increasing fixture in the datacenter, especially ones that value “performance per Watt.” Other IaaS providers might bleat about how they’re reducing the energy used to cool their data centers, but surely it’s a better plan to start with less waste heat.
Maria Deutscher: AWS debuts new compute-intensive and AI instances powered by custom chips
AWS’ new Amazon EC2 C7g instances target compute-intensive workloads such as analytics tools and scientific modeling software. The C7g series is based on the AWS Graviton3 chip, the third iteration of the cloud giant’s internally-designed processor.
Companies that plan to use C7g instances for machine learning workloads can expect an up to threefold performance jump in AI performance. The speed jump is partly the result of the processor’s support for bfloat16, a specialized data format [that] enables applications to process floating point numbers faster and using less memory than FP32, the data format historically used for the task.
For cryptographic tasks, Graviton3 delivers as much as double the performance of the Graviton2. … The chip introduces a feature called pointer authentication to reduce the risk of cyberattacks.
Tim Anderson has been sifting through the re:Invent announcements:
Top of the list perhaps is Graviton3, the next generation of AWS’s homemade [ARM] server processors. These chips will be used in new C7g instances previewed offering DDR5 memory (50 percent more bandwidth than DDR4) and up to 25 per cent better compute performance compared to instances powered by Graviton2.
Adam Selipsky gave his first Re:Invent keynote as AWS CEO. [He] said Graviton uses “up to 60 per cent less energy.” … Graviton matters because it is among those leading a charge to get more [ARM] microprocessors into data center and cloud infrastructure, and because if it’s more energy and cost efficient to operate, it’s critical to Amazon’s bottom line, sorry, today’s environmental concerns.
And is that pointer-authentication feature useful? Yes, very, says spijdar:
Very useful. … If the performance is good, this is a nice extra layer that makes return-oriented programming more difficult. Combined with NX bits, it really raises the difficulty in developing/using many types of exploits (it’s not impossible to bypass … but there’s no perfect security).
DevOps Guru Adds RDS Support
DevOps Guru for RDS is the latest upgrade for AWS’s oddly-named smart monitoring features.
Analysis: Silly name; useful tool
Laplace and Gauss were right: Your DevOps team aren’t all rockstars. “Average” ops staff are in the majority. So extending AWS’s monitoring automation to your database instances should be a positive step.
But that branding: Can anyone take it seriously?
Stephanie Condon: AWS brings more automation to database management
The new Amazon DevOps Guru for RDS automatically can find and fix database issues … helping developers using Aurora detect, diagnose and resolve database performance issues. [It] can help remediate a range of issues, such as over-utilization of host resources, database bottlenecks, or misbehavior of SQL queries.
Last year, AWS introduced DevOps Guru, a service that uses machine learning to automatically detect and alert customers of application issues. … Amazon DevOps Guru for RDS builds on that
Users can view [issues] in the DevOps Guru console or via notifications from Amazon EventBridge or Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS).
Sounds interesting, says u/random_dent:
I thought the DevOps Guru for RDS sounded interesting. You need to enable performance metrics first, which have their own charges, but it still looks not too expensive, plus three months free-tier, so we may try it out.
We’ve had some odd issues with RDS performance that are too inconsistent to lock down. It would be interesting to see if this could give us some insight.
But that name! Here’s Thomas LaRock—@SQLRockstar:
I’m old enough to remember when DevOps Guru for RDS was just called “database performance monitoring.”
And @shmick is young enough to say it like this:
such a cringe name