Cloud costs
October 30, 2023
min read

Lower Infrastructure Costs with Arm; Get there Faster with Harness CI Cloud


The ARMv8 (a.k.a. ARM64) CPU architecture, announced 12 years ago, was the first Arm architecture to support a 64-bit instruction set. Apple famously introduced its ARM64-based M1 chip in November of 2020. In June of this year, Apple completed its transition away from x86_64-based CPUs by launching a new Mac Pro model powered by the M2 revision of the chip. In the PC market, Arm notebooks are expected to increase to 27% market share by 2027. In the cloud computing space, all major service providers offer Arm solutions.

We have entered a world where Arm can’t be ignored. If your company isn’t adapting your applications and running infrastructure on Arm, chances are your competition is.

Cost and Energy Savings with Arm

The Arm architecture offers significant potential cost and energy savings. A recent study showed that moving to Arm-based cloud infrastructure can achieve up to 40% better performance per dollar over comparable x86_64-based infrastructure.

Companies like Squeaky reduced their cloud spending by 35% by switching to Arm. When analyzing CPU, memory, and latency metrics after the migration, Squeaky reports “no performance degradation” on the new hardware.

Database company Aerospike saw annual costs decrease by an estimated 27% after switching to Graviton2 processors on AWS EC2. They also cut carbon emissions by an estimated 49% while achieving aggressive targets for transaction throughput and data access latency.

Docker and Arm

The 2022 StackOverflow Developer Survey found that Docker is becoming a “fundamental tool for Professional Developers, increasing from 55% to 69%.” According to the CNCF 2022 annual survey, 44% of respondents use containers for nearly all applications and business segments, and another 35% say they use containers for at least a few production applications.

This means that the first challenge many companies face when adopting Arm is how to build their application containers for this different architecture. While Docker supports building images for other CPU architectures under emulation, this can significantly impact performance.

Native Builds vs. Emulation

To visualize the difference in performance, we built base Docker images for Python, RubyHAProxy and Redis using both emulation and Harness CI’s native Linux ARM64 hardware.

This graph shows build time in minutes for Harness’ native Arm hardware compared to emulation (Tested with minimum 4 vCPUs and 16GB memory):

Docker image build time

These results show builds completed five times faster on average with native Arm hardware. This is valuable time your developers could be using for development, rather than waiting for pipelines.

While Arm clearly has incredible momentum, some companies in the continuous integration space have been slow to provide hosted resources. Here at Harness, Arm infrastructure has been available in Harness CI Cloud since the beginning.

Get Started with Harness CI Cloud

Feeling inspired to experiment with ARM64 in your organization? Sign up for Harness today and enjoy 2,000 free monthly Harness Cloud build credits for your pipelines.

After creating an account, you’ll be guided through connecting to your Git repository and building your first pipeline.

To run builds on our ARM64 Linux runners, select Cloud, and then select ARM64 on your pipeline’s Infrastructure tab.

Select ARM64 platform

Next, add a Docker build step in your pipeline’s Execution tab.

Add Docker step

See our Build and Push to Docker documentation to learn how to customize this step for your application.

If you’d like to learn more, schedule a demo to see how Harness can revolutionize your software development process.

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Continuous Integration