Amazon Web Services:
Starting today, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Mac instances for macOS are generally available. Built on Apple Mac mini computers, EC2 Mac instances enable customers to run on-demand macOS workloads in the AWS cloud for the first time, extending the flexibility, scalability, and cost benefits of AWS to all Apple developers. With EC2 Mac instances, developers creating apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Safari can now provision and access macOS environments within minutes, dynamically scale capacity as needed, and benefit from AWS’s pay-as-you-go pricing.
Back in November, Amazon Web Services announced general availability for EC2 Mac instances. This new class of EC2 machines allows developers to run scalable macOS workloads on Amazon’s cloud. Previously, macOS cloud computing was somewhat of a niche service offered by vendors like MacStadium and MacinCloud. Amazon’s EC2 Mac instance is the first example of a top tier cloud computing vendor entering the macOS space.
At the moment, AWS is using Mac minis powered by Intel 8th Generation Core i7 processors. For general consumers, the Mac mini configuration used by AWS comes out to ~$1,999, and Geekbench scores clock in at 1,102 for single-core performance and 5,383 for multi-core performance. By comparison, the new M1 Mac mini has a single-core score of 1,749 and a multi-core score of 7,685 at over half the price of the Intel Core i7 Mac mini.
This is why I’m so bullish on Apple as an investment going into 2021 and beyond. I don’t think Amazon is going to replace its Mac infrastructure in the next 2-3 years, but it’s bound to happen someday. With the hardware switch from Intel to Apple Silicon, it’ll take a few years for the ecosystem to stabilize to a point where mass-scale buy-in from the likes of AWS, and perhaps even GCP and Azure, is feasible – so sticking with Intel Macs makes sense for now.
Another question I have is whether Macs powered by Apple Silicon will be adapted to run Linux workloads in the future as well. In the past, there was really no reason to use Macs for Linux virtual machines. With Apple Silicon’s current performance metrics and its speculative performance trajectory for future M-series chips, it’ll be interesting to see whether vendors will start using Macs for general-purpose Linux computing in addition to macOS workloads.
In either case, I think Apple Silicon’s performance characteristics combined with Intel’s recent struggles gives Apple a prime opportunity to disrupt the cloud computing space with its proprietary silicon. Let’s see what happens.