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SLOW COMPUTING

Amazon Web Services debuts its slowest server yet

By Christopher Groskopf

There is good news for fans of slow computers. Yesterday (Dec. 15) Amazon announced the availability of a new “t2.nano” server type for its Amazon Web Services cloud business. With only 512 MB of memory and a single “virtual CPU,” it is Amazon’s slowest performing offering yet.

It is also the cheapest. At a price of less than $5 per month (or $76 for three years paid in advance) it is 50% cheaper than the next least expensive of AWS’s 38 different kinds of servers.

This is not the first time Amazon has introduced a new entry at the bottom of its offerings, nor is it the first to do so. Competitor DigitalOcean also offers a $5 server.

This battle over price reflects both the aggressive competition for the attention of developers, as well as a growing distaste for running applications on monolithic, super-fast servers.

The alternative “micro services” approach divides an application up into tiny parts, some of which may even be suitable for hardware as underwhelming as the new t2.nano.

Of course, there are real limits on what you can hope to accomplish with a $5 server. It isn’t that different from renting time on a Raspberry Pi, the $30 portable computer beloved by artists, electronics enthusiasts, and basement tinkerers around the world.

By pushing the cost of servers ever-lower, Amazon aims to capture the hearts of the tinkering web developers who may launch the next big—or very, very small—thing.