Five key features of AWS’ new Mac mini EC2 instances

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Five key features of AWS’ new Mac mini EC2 instances
AWS EC2 Mac mini instance
Sébastien Stormacq, AWS

Amazon Web Services has launched its new Amazon EC2 M1 Mac instances that allow customers to run on-demand macOS workloads in the cloud for the first time, extending the flexibility, scalability, and price benefits of its cloud to all Apple developers.

“The wait is over,” said Sebastien Stormacq, principal developer advocate for AWS said.

“I have the pleasure of announcing the general availability of EC2 M1 Mac instances,” Stormacq said.

First announced at AWS re:Invent 2021, the Amazon EC2 M1 Mac—known as the Mac2—aims to enable developers building for Apple products such as iPhone, iPad, Watch and TV to build much faster.

The new Mac2 instances are dedicated to Apple’s Mac mini computers which lets the Mac mini appear and behave like another EC2 instance.

AWS’ red-hot EC2 innovation engine

The Seattle-based cloud computing worldwide market leader has already launched a slew of new products and tools in 2022 for developers, technologists, channel partners and customers who use AWS.

In May, AWS launched the general availability of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) C7g instances powered by in house designed Graviton3 processors.

AWS also recently unveiled Amazon EC2 Hpc6a instances, a new instance that is purpose-built for tightly coupled high-performance computing (HPC) workloads.

AWS’ innovation engine is helping to drive sales at the double-digit clip for the company.

For its recent first fiscal quarter, AWS generated sales of US$18.4 billion, representing a 37 percent spike in growth year over year.

AWS is now running at an annualized revenue run rate of US$74 billion (NZ$120 billion), with no big roadblocks ahead to slow down its growth.

From the cost of the new instances to the key workloads, CRN breaks down the five biggest features of the new Mac2 that developers, channel partners and customers need to know about.


Cost: US$0.65 per hour

At approximately $0.65 cents per hour, the new instances give users a dedicated host for about US$470 per month.

The Mac2 consists of the M1 System on Chip (SoC) with 8 processor cores, 8 graphics cores, 16 GB of memory, and a 16 core Apple Neural Engine.

This pricing makes the new EC2 M1 Mac instances cheaper than the AWS Mac1 instance that are built around Apple’s earlier Intel-based Mac mini model, and cost about US$1.08 per hour to run.



60 per cent better price performance 

With the new powerful M1 SoC, Mac2 delivers up to 60 per cent better price performance over the x86-based EC2 Mac instances for iPhone and Mac app build workloads, according to AWS.

“If you are a Mac developer and re-architecting your apps to natively support Macs with Apple silicon, you may now build and test your apps and take advantage of all the benefits of AWS,” said AWS’ Stormacq.

AWS says developers building for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV will benefit from faster builds.

Development teams can provision and access macOS environments within minutes, dynamically scale capacity as needed, and benefit from pay-as-you-go pricing.



Key workloads to run on new EC2 Mac instances

Amazon's EC2 Mac instances are designed to build, test, sign and publish applications for Apple platforms such as iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, macOS, and Safari.

They allow customers to run on-demand macOS workloads in the cloud which extends the flexibility, scalability and potential cost benefits of AWS to all Apple developers.

Customers of the solution already include Pinterest, Intuit, FlipBoard, Twitch, and Goldman Sachs.

AWS said these large customers have seen up to 75 per cent better build performance, up to 80 per cent lower build failure rates, and up to  five times the number of parallel builds compared to running macOS on premises.

Developers creating apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Safari can provision and access macOS environments within minutes and scale capacity as needed.



AWS services integration

The new Mac2 instances integrates with other AWS services, including Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) for file storage, Auto Scaling and the Secrets Manager.

They can connect customers’ Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), boot from Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes, and uses EBS snapshots as well as Amazon Machine Images (AMIs).

The Mac2 also uses other AWS services such as CloudWatch and Systems Manager.

Technically, the Mac2 instances run on Apple’s Mac mini computers attached through Thunderbolt to the AWS Nitro System.

This lets the Mac mini appear and behave like another EC2 instance.



Region availability 

The Mac2 instance type is available in Amazon’s US East (North Virginia), US West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland), and Asia Pacific (Singapore) regions.

AWS is preparing several events to help developers, channel partners and customers learn more about the Mac2 instance use cases and configuration.

These include a one-day, in-person developer conference later this year that will be packed with technical content and workshops.

Additionally, AWS held an online webinar in June around learning how to take advantage of EC2 Mac instances for iOS development.




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