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Amazon looks at Google's cheap SSDs, slashes its own prices

Bezos's great deflationary tech machine whirrs on

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Sometimes Amazon's entire purpose as a company seems to be to act as a deflationary force on the economy, and this is especially apparent in its cloud services.

As is traditional with the cloud computing market, Amazon has taken a look at Google's just-announced flash-backed persistent disks, then dipped its chip-encrusted hands into its own tech warchest and attached SSDs to one of its most widely used technologies, all while cutting prices.

The new "General Purpose (SSD)" class of Elastic Block Storage was announced by Amazon Web Services on Tuesday, and gives developers a speedy and relatively low-cost block of persistent SSD-based storage to attach to their Amazon servers. It will sit alongside HDD-based standard EBS tech (now termed "Magnetic EBS"), and a more-expensive, SSD-based "provisioned IOPS" service that guarantees predictable access rates.

"EC2 instances come packaged, for the vast majority apart from our micro instances, with a certain amount of storage on the instance," explained Amazon's head of data science, Matt Wood, in a chat with El Reg. The tradeoff is that that storage is ephemeral – it disappears when you terminate the instance. EBS is there to provide persistent storage – you're abstracting your storage away from the server, from the compute instance."

These new SSD volumes come with a 3,000-IOPS allocation for their first thirty minutes. "This initial allocation provides for a speedy boot experience for both Linux and Windows, and is more than sufficient for multiple boot cycles, regardless of the operating system that you use on EC2," Amazon said in their blog post.

Meanwhile, the typical IO performance for the tech is 3 input-output operations per second, per gigabyte of stored data – so 100GB of storage gets you 300 IOPS, which Amazon says is suitable for "small to medium DBs" and "dev and test" tech.

This compares with Amazon's "provisioned IOPS" option can support up to 30 IOPS per gigabyte, per second – the same as Google's just-launched tech.

Amazon's new SSD-based EBS will cost $0.10 per gigabyte per month, which also incorporates the price of IO per month, compared with $0.325 for Google's SSD persistent discs (30 read and write IOPS per gigabyte per minute, or 10,000 read IOPS per volume or 15,000 write IOPS per volume, and $0.04 for Google's HDD-based ones (0.3 read IOPS per gigabyte per minute, or 1.5 write IOPS per gigabyte per minute, and up to 3,000 read IOPS or 15,000 write IOPS).

"When we first started to make SSDs available on our instance types, we've been on a course to extend SSDs as broadly across the platform as we can," Wood said, though he insisted that HDDs will remain a good option for cost-conscious developers due to its costing only $0.05 per gigabyte per month.

Along with the new EBS tech, Amazon also announced it was reducing provisioned IOPS volume prices by 35 per cent because, well, why not? It seems like Amazon has taken a look at Google's aggressive round of recent price cuts and decided that it will join in so that although it may earn less profit off each individual bit of infrastructure it rents to businesses, the increase in volume will more than make up for it. ®

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