UPDATED JUNE 04, 2014: We have heard from our readers that Amazon EC2 Reserved Instance prices drop actively with any price changes that are announced with AWS. Although previously paid bills will not be credited, any AWS bills moving forward from the announcement of the price change would reflect the new price.
This blog post contains a snapshot of data compiled for analyzing processor performance of Amazon EC2 and CenturyLink Cloud.
Please download the full report to view information on virtual machines from 1 vCPU to 16 vCPUs, along with price/performance analysis.
Recently, CenturyLink Cloud announced lower prices for their cloud instances, claiming to make “bold cloud move against you-know-who.” We’ve seen this pattern of price-drop competition across the large players in the cloud market. Traditionally, Amazon AWS made a price move, and competitors follow; providers like Microsoft Azure have promised to match. In this most recent case, CenturyLink proactively announced price cuts for its Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering. This project was not sponsored by any parties involved in the study, and is the product of a collaboration between Cloud Spectator and Structure Research.
CenturyLink has gained marketshare in the cloud infrastructure industry with its acquisition of Savvis and, most recently, Tier 3. As a telecommunications provider, CenturyLink can afford to provide high bandwidth at low cost to consumers. With a price cut focused on cloud, bandwidth is not the only performance feature that users are concerned with. Backed by top-shelf technology from Tier 3, CenturyLink’s unique cost-cut position has also increased its performance value to its cloud users for both bandwidth and infrastructure. We set out to put CenturyLink’s claim to the test.
The Purpose of the Study
Our goal for this study was to understand what a virtual core meant on Amazon EC2 and CenturyLink Cloud when it came to performance, and which provider delivered the better value for its processing power.
Processor Reported in BIOS
Hardware information was collected by information available from the BIOS. As this is a public virtual environment, the accuracy of the information in the BIOS is dependent on the hypervisor.
|Offering||Processor Reported in BIOS|
|Amazon EC2 C3 Family||Intel Xeon E5-2680 v2 (2.8GHz)|
|Amazon EC2 M3 Family||Intel Xeon E5-2670 v2 (2.5GHz)|
|CenturyLink Cloud||Intel Xeon E5-2650 v2 (2.6GHz)|
We ran processor-intensive system tests across five comparable virtual machines on Amazon EC2 and CenturyLink Cloud. These machines ranged in power from 1 to 16 virtual cores. The system test used in this study focused on processor performance; we made no attempt to compare disk performance in this study, although Amazon EC2’s latest-generation virtual machines and CenturyLink Cloud’s Hyperscale option both come with local SSDs.
Single Core Performance*
With respect to single virtual processor performance, one on Amazon EC2’s C3 Family, which offers their most powerful processors available for users, deliver the most processing power. However, CenturyLink Cloud’s virtual cores from its Intel Xeon E5-2650 v2 processors, though, scored more than 2x higher on single-core processor tests than the comparable Amazon EC2 M3 Family.
Geekbench 3 Single Core Scores
Amazon EC2 C3 Family – 2984
CenturyLink Cloud – 2826
Amazon EC2 M3 Family – 1395
Multi Core Performance*
With multi-core testing, CenturyLink scores higher than both Amazon M3 and C3 Family instances that were compared in this study. This performance may be due to both the processor and the underlying hypervisor, VMware (CenturyLink Cloud) versus a modified Xen (Amazon EC2).
CenturyLink Cloud – 10968
Amazon EC2 C3 Family – 7393
The results of the study show that, like-for-like on processor and memory, CenturyLink provides comparable virtual machines at a lower price. One exception is Amazon EC2’s Reserved Instances, which, at Heavy Utilization price, offers less expensive virtual machines. Amazon EC2’s C3 Family has greater processor performance for a single core, but when comparing cost of the C3 Family to a single-core CenturyLink VM, the CenturyLink machine provides more price-performance value.
Running 13 integer workloads and 10 floating point workloads yield similar performance patterns for multi-core and single-core. Combining the results with pricing, CenturyLink Cloud’s VM processing power provides more price-performance value than its Amazon EC2 counterparts on both single-core and multi-core tests for integer and floating point. That value claim holds true for Amazon EC2’s 1-year Reserved Instance pricing at Heavy Utilization as well, although the 3-year pricing commitment cuts costs significantly enough to shift the greater value to Amazon’s instances.
Amazon EC2’s Spot Instances, which are ideal for batch workloads, are not included in this study due to the variability in cost, which may range from far below to far above on demand pricing on a day-to-day basis. If priced low enough, Amazon EC2’s Spot Instances would provide better value for processors than CenturyLink Cloud.
*All performance scores displayed are reflective of floating point performance. Integer performance results are included in the full report.