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Bare metal Macs-as-a-service come to AWS. Intel for now, M1 silicon in 2021

AWS has announced that it is now offering bare metal Macs in its cloud.

The company says the new instances run on a Mac Mini under macOS 10.14 (Mojave) and 10.15 (Catalina) and pack an 8th generation, 6-core (12 vCPU) Intel Core i7 (Coffee Lake) processor running at 3.2 GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 4.6 GHz. 32GB of RAM awaits. Only Elastic Block Storage can be used with the instances.

“Mac instances are dedicated, bare-metal instances which are accessible in the EC2 console as dedicated hosts,” according to Amazon’s listing of EC2 instance types.

The macOS instances are accessible over SSH or as a VNC remote desktop. “The AMIs for EC2 Mac instances are EC2-optimized and include the AWS goodies that you would find on other AWS AMIs: An ENA driver, the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), the CloudWatch Agent, CloudFormation Helper Scripts, support for AWS Systems Manager, and the ec2-user account,” says AWS’ announcement. Amazon’s Nitro security and isolation layer is also present.

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AWS suggests the instances as a development environment for jobs like “Developing, building, testing, and signing iOS, iPadOS, macOS, WatchOS, and tvOS applications on the Xcode IDE.” Build farms, render farms, and CI/CD farm are also target workloads.

But as the instances are bare metal Macs, there seems to be nothing stopping users just running a Mac in the AWS cloud.

Sadly, Amazon’s pricing pages had not caught up with its announcement at the time of writing so we can’t assess whether using a macOS instance regularly will be viable.

The cloud colossus has revealed that tenancy will be for a minimum of 24 hours.

AWS says the new service was created in response to user requests. And it’s not done yet: it says instances running Apple’s new M1 silicon will land in 2021. ®


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