Arm VMs on Compute

Google Cloud offers the Tau T2A machine series as the first Arm series available on Compute Engine. Arm architecture is optimized for power efficiency and as a result, the Tau T2A machine series yields better price for performance.

Arm processors are becoming common in standard servers due to their power efficiency as compared to x86 servers. Mobile phones and laptops are examples of devices that run on an Arm processor — with an Arm CPU's reduced instruction set, fewer instructions equals greater performance speed with lower battery and power consumption.

Ampere Altra's single-threaded CPU makes it an excellent platform for general-purpose compute workloads. Consider the Tau T2A general-purpose Arm VMs when you want to:

  • Run compute-intensive workloads that require the ability to scale usage quickly when needed.
  • Optimize for price-performance on Arm-compatible workloads.
  • Leverage modern, open source software stacks.
  • Develop and test mobile or embedded systems which use an Arm CPU.
  • Evaluate whether your workload is suitable for an Arm CPU.

Tau T2A machine series

The Tau T2A Arm machine series running on the 64 core Ampere Altra Arm processor at 3.0 GHz all-core frequency delivers greater price-performance for many workloads. Tau T2A makes it possible to run workloads that run best, or exclusively, on Arm.

Tau T2A machine types support only the NVMe interface for storage, and Google virtual NIC (gVNIC) for networking. Virtionet and SCSI interfaces are not supported. All publicly-available Arm OS images are configured to use the NVMe and gVNIC interfaces. gVNIC is a network interface that is designed specifically for Compute Engine. It provides better performance and supports higher network bandwidths and throughput.

The Tau T2A machine series has predefined machine types of up to 48 physical cores with 4 GB of memory per vCPU. Tau T2A machine types run within a single NUMA node.

Simultaneous multithreading

For this machine series, each vCPU is backed by a single core with no simultaneous multithreading (SMT). Thus, Tau T2A VMs deliver greater performance per vCPU compared to a VM with SMT enabled. While SMT provides benefits to certain workloads, single-threaded cores are ideal for compute- intensive workloads because processes can access the entire core, rather than sharing it with other processes.

OS images

Tau T2A VMs support public Arm-based OS images. You can also create custom images using a publicly-available Arm-based image.

Workload recommendations

The Tau T2A machine series provides an opportunity to test, develop, and plan for your eventual migration to the next generation of Arm machine series, and to determine which workloads would benefit from running on Arm. Tau T2A is a good choice for scale-out and compute-intensive workloads such as:

  • App serving, web serving, and game serving
  • Embedded systems development
  • Development on CI/CD on Arm
  • Video and image encoding, transcoding, and processing
  • Digital advertising exchanges and serving
  • Cache servers
  • Computational drug discovery
  • Android development
  • Autonomous or conventional automotive software development

General-purpose machine comparison table

This table compares the general-purpose N2D, T2D, and T2A machine series to each other so you can determine the best machine series for your workloads.

General purpose
General purpose
Perf/$ optimized
General purpose
Perf/$ optimized
VM Shapes 224 max vCPU
Large VM shapes
Multiple memory configs
60 max vCPU
No custom VMs
Standard memory
48 max vCPU
No custom VMs
Standard memory
VM sub families Standard
Standard Standard
Memory speed 2933 DDR4 2933 DDR4 3200 DDR4
1 NUMA node ≤ 24 cores,
2 NUMA nodes otherwise
1 NUMA node ≤ 60 cores 1 NUMA node ≤ 48 cores
Sole Tenancy Yes No No
Confidential VM Support Yes No No
Networking Up to 100Gbps Up to 32Gbps Up to 32Gbps

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