AWS now uses Mac Minis in its cloud for devs to test macOS & iOS apps

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AWS re:Invent 2020 is currently underway, and the cloud-focused arm of Amazon has made a number of announcements to kick off the three-week long digital conference.

One of the first notable ones is that AWS is leveraging Apple hardware for its developer ecosystem to test out new solutions and applications within the iOS, macOS, iPadOS, tvOS and watchOS environments.

The hyperscaler is using the Mac Mini in particular to do so. No, not the new M1 silicon sporting ones, but rather the older Intel options.

That said, AWS has said that it is working to bring the new M1 Mac Minis into its cloud infrastructure in early 2021, so the switch may be imminent. It would make sense too, as Apple billed the M1 as a great option for machine learning-related tasks and high-level processing.

Back to the hardware that is being used, and the devices that will feature in AWS’ EC2 Mac instances will feature i7 processors, along with 32GB of RAM and six physical/12 logic cores onboard. The instances have also been connected to AWS’ Nitro system for faster network and storage access.

“You can use these instances to create build farms, render farms, and CI/CD farms that target all of the Apple environments that I mentioned earlier. You can provision new instances in minutes, giving you the ability to quickly & cost-effectively build code for multiple targets without having to own & operate your own hardware,” explains AWS chief evangelist, Jeff Barr, in a blog post regarding the announcement.

“You pay only for what you use, and you get to benefit from the elasticity, scalability, security, and reliability provided by EC2,” he adds.

Speaking of price, access to these EC2 Mac instances doe snot come cheap, with customers needing to pre-pay for the first 24 hours in order to spin up an environment. Billing is by the second, and works out to $1.083 per hour or $26 (R400) to run for 24 consecutive hours.

As TechCrunch points out that can add up quite a bit, with the AWS version of these Mac instances roughly $60 more per month than other offerings from competitors. Whether the switch to M1 silicon results in a price change, remains to be seen.

It also remains to be seen what kind of appetite there is for such a solution, especially a more expensive version, but with Apple clearly aiming its new silicon beyond consumer hardware, perhaps AWS is just getting in early.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.