VMware Cloud on AWS

i3en.metal – Enhanced Capacity Uncompromising Performance

The release of the i3en.metal instance contained a small but significant shift in the storage architecture used within VMware Cloud on AWS. With the launch of this new instance we have added NVMe Namespaces support exclusively to VMware Cloud on AWS.

NVMe Namespaces

For the uninitiated, the NVMe interface and protocol were built from the ground up to connect and access storage class media directly over PCIe. It removed the legacy SCSI layer that SATA and SAS relied upon, resulting in the storage media moving closer to the CPU. The use of NVMe within VMware Cloud on AWS itself isn’t new, but with i3en, VMC on AWS takes advantage of namespaces to logically divide the capacity into separate addressable devices.

Introducing i3en.metal

Why are NVMe namespaces so important? If we look at the raw hardware available to us with this new host, we find eight 7.5TB NVMe devices—roughly 60TB of raw media, a significant chunk of resources to be sure. Unfortunately, the 7.5TB NVMe devices presented a challenge with vSAN. If we copied the i3.metal implementation and split the media into a pair of disk groups, we would strand an unreasonable chunk of total resources in the cache tier. Our solution was to break each 7.5TB NVMe device into four NVMe namespaces, creating 32 independently addressable devices. We then split these into four disk groups with each disk group using 8 Namespaces across two dedicated devices.

The combined result is a host with rough equivalent usable capacity as an r5.metal with the performance of an i3.metal!

What about r5.metal?

As you may imagine, introducing i3en.metal had a few impacts to the service. When it comes to r5.metal, While we will continue to support existing customers, we will soon remove the r5.metal instance from the VMC provisioning console.

VMC on AWS provisioning console with i3EN.metal

While we maintain an exciting roadmap for Elastic vSAN, our customers are better served in the immediate future by the new instance.


With the release of the i3en.metal instance within VMware Cloud on AWS the service gains the capacity density and performance our customers require. The best part, as exciting as this capability is, we have a few targeted enhancements which may make this already compelling offering even more so!


To view the latest status of features for VMware Cloud on AWS, visit https://cloud.vmware.com/vmc-aws/roadmap.