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InfoQ Homepage News AWS Expands its Cloud Mac Minis Offering with M2 Pro Mac Instances

AWS Expands its Cloud Mac Minis Offering with M2 Pro Mac Instances

AWS recently announced the general availability of Amazon EC2 M2 Pro Mac instances (mac2-m2pro.metal) as a virtual Mac offering on its Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2).

The EC2 M2 Pro Mac instance type is a 2022 Apple M2 Pro Mini computer with a 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 32 GiB of memory, and 16-core Apple Neural Engines. In addition, this instance type is supported by Amazon Nitro systems through high-speed Thunderbolt connections.

EC2 M2 Pro Mac instances offer users Mac mini computers as fully integrated and managed compute instances with up to 10 Gbps of Amazon VPC network bandwidth and up to 8 Gbps of Amazon EBS storage bandwidth.

Under the hood, the EC2 Mac instance connects a Nitro controller via the Mac’s Thunderbolt connection. When users launch a Mac instance, their Mac-compatible Amazon Machine Image (AMI) runs directly on the Mac Mini, with no hypervisor. In addition, the Nitro controller sets up the instance and provides secure access to the network and any storage attached. And finally, the Mac Mini can natively use any AWS service.

The EC2 Mac instances require a Dedicated Host; hence, users first need to allocate a host to their account and then launch the instance onto the host. Subsequently, they can launch a Mac instance using the AWS Management Console or the AWS CLI.

Allocate Dedicated Host via Console (Source: AWS News blog post)

A respondent in a Hacker News thread commented on what use case the M2 Pro Mac instances are helpful given the pricing:

I would expect these are more likely to be used either for testing or for very niche applications and would never be expected to be competitive for general-purpose workloads. So, I'm not too surprised by the cost.

And in another Hacker News thread, a respondent mentions another potential use case:

I think one of the possible use cases is for corporations to provide "cloud workstations" that cannot be physically stolen, from which the untrusted employee cannot steal files, that are in the correct country even if the employee is on a business trip, that have automated backups by the virtue of being on EBS. Yes, this is expensive, but I have seen this on non-Mac with the motivation of "protecting the company IP.

While Channy Yun, a principal developer advocate for AWS, in an AWS news blog post wrote:

Many customers take advantage of EC2 Mac instances to deliver a complete end-to-end build pipeline on macOS on AWS. With EC2 Mac instances, they can scale their iOS build fleet; easily use custom macOS environments with AMIs; and debug any build or test failures with fully reproducible macOS environments.

Lastly, the Amazon EC2 M2 Pro Mac instances are available in the US West (Oregon) and US East (Ohio) AWS regions, with additional regions coming soon. Pricing-wise, EC2 Mac instances are available for purchase as Dedicated Hosts through On Demand and Savings Plans pricing models.

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