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InfoQ Homepage News Amazon Announces General Availability of EC2 M1 Mac Instances to Build and Test on macOS

Amazon Announces General Availability of EC2 M1 Mac Instances to Build and Test on macOS

AWS recently announced the general availability of the EC2 M1 Mac instances based on the Apple ARM-based processor and designed for CI/CD of Apple-based applications. The M1 Mac option is faster and cheaper than the existing x86-based Mac version but still requires a minimum 24 hours commitment.

M1 Mac instances are dedicated Mac mini computers attached to the AWS Nitro System using the Thunderbolt interface. The Mac mini behaves like a traditional EC2 instance and can be used to create or test apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Safari.


Sébastien Stormacq, principal developer advocate at AWS, explains:

The availability of EC2 M1 Mac instances lets you access machines built around the Apple-designed M1 System on Chip (SoC). 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. Developers building for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV will also benefit from faster builds. EC2 M1 Mac instances deliver up to 60 percent better price performance over the x86-based EC2 Mac instances for iPhone and Mac app build workloads.

The AWS CLI and the Systems Manager and CloudWatch agents are preinstalled on the Mac instances for management and observability. In a Twitter thread, a few developers expressed concerns about the minimum 24 hours commitment, an Apple requirement for the macOS license, and the inability to perform macOS updates on the instances. Chad Brewbaker, lead software engineer, comments:

This seems like a bit of a problem not patching vulnerabilities - especially for those doing browser automation subject to media injections as they usually don’t pick up Chrome patches for weeks.

The new instances integrate with other AWS services, such as EFS, Auto Scaling, and Secrets Manager. Stormacq provides a presentation on how to deploy pipelines with Mac instances and writes:

I am using Secrets Manager to securely store my build secrets, such as the signing keys and certificates used to sign my binaries before distributing them on the App Store.

Corey Quinn, cloud economist at The Duckbill Group, highlights how compliance is one of the main benefits of running a Mac instance:

This is not "Desktop in the Cloud" as per Amazon Workspaces. It's "your macOS/iOS builds can now live with the rest of your cloud stuff rather than on a Mac stuffed under a developer's desk that we hide when the auditor comes around."

The new dedicated instances cost a minimum of $15.6 USD per running day and are currently available only in the Northern Virginia, Oregon, Dublin, and Singapore regions. The price of the Mac M1 instance is significantly lower than the Intel Mac one that starts at $26 USD/day.

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