Evolution of the EC2 Network Performance: m3, m4, and m5

AWS announces new generations of EC2 instances from time to time. Typically, each generation offers better performance at lower costs. This article discusses the networking capabilities of the general purpose instances over time. Spoiler alert: you can increase the throughput of your web application, decrease the duration of your backups from EC2 to S3, and increase the maximum network throughput between two EC2 instances without additional costs.

We have measured the networking performance of EC2 instance from three different general purpose generations:

  • The third generation m3 announced 2012.
  • The fourth generation m4 announced 2015.
  • The fifth generation m5 announced 2017 during re:Invent recently.

Evolution of the EC2 Network Performance

While there is no considerable difference in network performance between m3 and m4 instances, there is a huge difference in networking performance between the fourth and fifth generation of general purpose instance types.

  • All m5 instances offer an average network throughput of at least 10 Gbit/s.
  • An m5.2xlarge instance offers ten times the networking performance of an m3.2xlarge instance at lower hourly costs.
  • An m5.large instance offers twenty times the networking performance of an m4.large instance at lower hourly costs.

The following table lists the average network throughput of m3, m4, and m5 EC2 instances in Gbit/s. We have measured the network performance daily with the iperf3 network benchmark tool in EU (Ireland) from November 30th to December 18th.

INSTANCE TYPE M3 FAMILY M4 FAMILY M5 FAMILY
medium 0.31 Gbit/s
large 0.70 Gbit/s 0.47 Gbit/s 10.04 Gbit/s
xlarge 1.02 Gbit/s 0.81 Gbit/s 10.04 Gbit/s
2xlarge 1.01 Gbit/s 1.01 Gbit/s 10.04 Gbit/s
4xlarge 2.05 Gbit/s 10.04 Gbit/s
10xlarge 6.86 Gbit/s
12xlarge 10.04 Gbit/s
16xlarge 23.94 Gbit/s
24xlarge 24.58 Gbit/s

The following table provides a more detailed look at the network performance of m5 instances.

INSTANCE TYPE MIN MAX AVG STDDEV
m5.large 10.041 10.045 10.042 0.001
m5.xlarge 10.041 10.044 10.042 0.001
m5.2xlarge 10.041 10.043 10.042 0.001
m5.4xlarge 10.039 10.043 10.042 0.001
m5.24xlarge 24.466 24.583 24.578 0.013

Compared to m4 instances the network throughput of m5 instances is very consistent. Learn more about the detailed measurement results for m3 and m4 instances at EC2 network performance demystified: m3 and m4.

As the network is the computer, the networking capabilities of your instances become more and more critical. Don’t miss the incredible increase of network throughput of the m5 instance types and upgrade your EC2 instances today.

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Andreas Wittig

Andreas Wittig

I’m the author of Amazon Web Services in Action. I work as a software engineer, and independent consultant focused on AWS and DevOps.

Is anything missing in my article? I'm looking forward to your feedback! @andreaswittig or andreas@widdix.de.

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