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A ec2 compute unit is 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor.

I'm looking at a X5670 hex core xeon:

Is it even possible to compare the 2?

I'm looking for a rough idea, something like:

12 x ec2 compute unit = X5670

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Each core on the X5670 is 2.93Ghz (we'll go with 3 to keep the math easy).

3 Ghz * 6 Cores = 18 Ghz of CPU power which would be about 18 EC2 Computer Units.

Depending on your application this might be better or worse. Some apps need a few fast CPUs, (like databases) others want lots of cores so that more threads can be run at a time.

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but on ec2 its all about cores, not really much choice right? so a mysql db would need high memory, lower cpu and fast io right? – Blankman Mar 5 '11 at 4:34
It depends on what you are trying to do with it, and how tight your database code and design is. A sight with a really tight database design and really tight database code would run really differently than one with a crappy database design or bad code. How many EC2 CUs were you looking at getting in your machine? An EC2 CU just maps to a physical core, which may or may not be shared with other VMs on the server. – mrdenny Mar 5 '11 at 9:15
not to mention bare metal servers being generally much faster! orders of magnitude at times i.e. 2-3x or more. – Blankman Mar 7 '11 at 20:27

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