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Amazon's cloudy desktops now tiptoe across hot sand

Spinning rust for desktops-as-a-service is soooooo 2016

Amazon Web Services has found another way to make its “Workspaces” desktop-as-a-service offering more attractive: as of today the cloudy Windows instances run on solid state disks instead of ye olde spinning rust hard disks.

The change doesn't change AWS' price for the service.

The new disks are AWS' general purpose SSDs, so run at 160 MB/s. That's half the speed of Amazon's “Provisioned IOPS SSD” that it recommends for latency-sensitive workloads.

Which is not to say the new service is a slouch: the cloud colossus is talking up faster boot times and better performance for latency-sensitive applications. Given that AWS has also imbued Workspaces with GPUs, it looks like the company is pulling out the stops to make Workspaces more palatable for even heavy desktop workloads. Or perhaps just palatable: the company's also launched “Cost Optimizer” that “analyzes WorkSpaces usage data and automatically applies the most cost-effective billing option based on what it finds.” Which should help you to decide whether to pay by the month, or to adopt the new hourly payment offering.

Those of you already using Workspaces can move from spinning rust to SSD, but at the cost of any data on the virtual boot drive. Happily, Workspaces also include a data drive so a little drag and drop, then some re-installation action, should sort things out. ®

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