Oracle Cloud free ARM instances

edited July 2023 in Reviews

Oracle Cloud has been giving away free "Ampere A1 Compute" instances for a while, but I haven't seen too much talk about them, so I thought I would contribute. I've been using one since the beginning (uptime 740 days) and I'd like to share my thoughts and benches.

First, you get one of their "VM.Standard.A1.Flex" instances:

  • Ampere A1 (arm64) processors (that's Neoverse-N1 cores)
  • 24gb RAM
  • Up to 200gb of block storage
  • 1 ipv4

The bad:

  • Oracle Cloud UI is subpar, even compared to their competitors' which aren't great themselves (AWS, Azure...)
  • Instances may not be available for creation in your prefered region depending on when you're trying it. I choose a nearby region and it's worked fine for me.
  • Depending on your luck, registering can be a hassle due to strong anti fraud checks which also impact legitimate users: UI is slow and unreliable, and the process may fail without a clear reason.
  • You need to give a credit card number, although they won't charge you.
  • We're talking about an ARM instance, this can be a problem if you want to run x86/amd64 specific software, though that's becoming less of an issue over time.

The good:

  • Unusually powerful cpu, incredible ram amount, sizeable storage.
  • Instance/network seem fairly reliable, no major problem since I've been using it.
  • I've run heavy stuff such as Elasticsearch and Kubernetes on it, with success.

You can look at some benchmarks just after, but to sum up, I'd say that if you can pass their registration process and there are instances available, it's kind of a no-brainer.

# ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## #
#              Yet-Another-Bench-Script              #
#                     v2023-04-23                    #
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# ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## #

ARM compatibility is considered *experimental*

Basic System Information:
Uptime     : 740 days, 15 hours, 23 minutes
Processor  : Neoverse-N1
CPU cores  : 4 @ ??? MHz
AES-NI     : ✔ Enabled
VM-x/AMD-V : ❌ Disabled
RAM        : 22.6 GiB
Swap       : 8.0 GiB
Disk       : 100.0 GiB
VM Type    : KVM
IPv4/IPv6  : ✔ Online / ❌ Offline

IPv4 Network Information:
ISP        : Oracle Corporation
ASN        : AS31898 Oracle Corporation
Host       : Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (uk-london-1)
Location   : London, England (ENG)
Country    : United Kingdom

fio Disk Speed Tests (Mixed R/W 50/50):
Block Size | 4k            (IOPS) | 64k           (IOPS)
  ------   | ---            ----  | ----           ---- 
Read       | 13.45 MB/s    (3.3k) | 27.16 MB/s     (424)
Write      | 13.47 MB/s    (3.3k) | 27.97 MB/s     (437)
Total      | 26.93 MB/s    (6.7k) | 55.13 MB/s     (861)
           |                      |                     
Block Size | 512k          (IOPS) | 1m            (IOPS)
  ------   | ---            ----  | ----           ---- 
Read       | 24.80 MB/s      (48) | 24.45 MB/s      (23)
Write      | 26.92 MB/s      (52) | 27.28 MB/s      (26)
Total      | 51.73 MB/s     (100) | 51.73 MB/s      (49)

iperf3 Network Speed Tests (IPv4):
Provider        | Location (Link)           | Send Speed      | Recv Speed      | Ping           
-----           | -----                     | ----            | ----            | ----           
Clouvider       | London, UK (10G)          | 3.99 Gbits/sec  | 1.22 Gbits/sec  | 2.09 ms        
Scaleway        | Paris, FR (10G)           | 4.00 Gbits/sec  | 371 Mbits/sec   | 8.80 ms        
NovoServe       | North Holland, NL (40G)   | 4.01 Gbits/sec  | 2.55 Gbits/sec  | 7.46 ms        
Uztelecom       | Tashkent, UZ (10G)        | 717 Mbits/sec   | 49.8 Mbits/sec  | 102 ms         
Clouvider       | NYC, NY, US (10G)         | 937 Mbits/sec   | 82.4 Mbits/sec  | 70.2 ms        
Clouvider       | Dallas, TX, US (10G)      | 662 Mbits/sec   | 89.1 Mbits/sec  | 107 ms         
Clouvider       | Los Angeles, CA, US (10G) | 491 Mbits/sec   | 68.4 Mbits/sec  | 132 ms 
-------------------- A Script By Teddysun -------------------
 Version            : v2023-06-10
 Usage              : wget -qO- | bash
 CPU Model          : CPU model not detected
 CPU Cores          : 4
 AES-NI             : Enabled
 VM-x/AMD-V         : Disabled
 Total Disk         : 100.0 GB (22.8 GB Used)
 Total Mem          : 22.6 GB (4.5 GB Used)
 Total Swap         : 8.0 GB (275.6 MB Used)
 System uptime      : 740 days, 15 hour 34 min
 Load average       : 0.06, 0.06, 0.04
 Arch               : aarch64 (64 Bit)
 TCP CC             : cubic
 Virtualization     : KVM
 IPv4/IPv6          : Online / Offline
 Organization       : AS31898 Oracle Corporation
 Location           : London / GB
 Region             : England
 I/O Speed(1st run) : 55.7 MB/s
 I/O Speed(2nd run) : 50.5 MB/s
 I/O Speed(3rd run) : 52.2 MB/s
 I/O Speed(average) : 52.8 MB/s
 Node Name        Upload Speed      Download Speed      Latency    1543.83 Mbps      947.64 Mbps         0.81 ms     
 Los Angeles, US  301.05 Mbps       22.04 Mbps          129.99 ms   
 Dallas, US       289.66 Mbps       538.64 Mbps         102.12 ms   
 Montreal, CA     176.57 Mbps       140.22 Mbps         75.06 ms    
 Paris, FR        1465.03 Mbps      159.86 Mbps         9.59 ms     
 Amsterdam, NL    1338.97 Mbps      189.83 Mbps         6.98 ms     
 Shanghai, CN     113.45 Mbps       535.47 Mbps         216.68 ms   
 Nanjing, CN      170.08 Mbps       513.50 Mbps         259.69 ms   
 Hongkong, CN     177.91 Mbps       1735.52 Mbps        246.73 ms   
 Singapore, SG    286.40 Mbps       8.75 Mbps           161.03 ms   
 Tokyo, JP        133.62 Mbps       16.18 Mbps          230.15 ms   
 Finished in        : 6 min 15 sec

If you'd like any other benchmarks, feel free to ask.

Thanked by (2)tylerdu xleet


  • rootroot OG
    edited July 2023

    There was some talk about it. There is barely any talk about it because it is not quite reliable. The only good part is the "free" aspect, but that is about it.

    When one pays, one has some protection within economic trade legislation. A paid server is a better choice.

    EDIT: I believe in a free world where people work not for money or for having, but for themselves and for society. We are not there yet.

    Thanked by (3)Shot² julien bikegremlin

    How are you... online?

  • Uptime : 453 days, 17 hours, 31 minutes

    It is practically impossible to provide a free vm with 10TB bandwidth especially in South India (<20ms). I've had positive experience so far, hope it continues.

    Thanked by (1)sh97
  • The Worst:
    • surprise termination without any apparent reason


  • @jmaxwell said:
    The Worst:
    • surprise termination without any apparent reason

    That 'Why' will never be answered

    Thanked by (1)jmaxwell
  • @root said: I believe in a free world where people work not for money or for having, but for themselves and for society. We are not there yet.


    The all seeing eye sees everything...

  • havochavoc OGContent Writer

    Yeah been running a k3s cluster on it for a long time idea how long but year+

    @root said: There is barely any talk about it because it is not quite reliable.

    Best as I can tell the ones that make it through the first couple months tend to be OK.

    Thanked by (1)julien
  • edited July 2023

    I signed up around 5 months ago. The signup process took over a week, and I live in the US and supplied an ordinary, active US credit card. Oracle dropped the ball several times during the signup process, forcing yet another "do-over" reset of the process. My advice: If you do not hear back from Oracle with the next step after 24 hours, give up and start over, possibly more than once. Eventually you will get through the process. If you have issues (e.g., you are in China with no appropriate credit card?), it may not be worth your time and effort. Find a quality low cost provider through LowEndSpirit and you will be ahead. If does not work out, then free tier is not worth the effort.

    When I finally achieved the sign up, it came with a a $300 credit to be used during a 30-day Oracle Cloud trial. There is no turning that off to make sure you stay within the free tier. Despite my best effort, it started charging against the credit. It was only a few pennies a day, but it added up to more than my most expensive low end VPS. I had a difficult time tracking down the source of the charges. Eventually I figured it out - I had created "Intel compatible" instances from the primary options (AMD and Intel). The free tier for AMD is hidden under "Specialty and previous generation", where you will see the "Always Free-eligible" tag (VM.Standard.E1.1 Micro). What you finally get in the free tier has

    It took a month of once-a-day attempts before I got an ARM instance. I got two the same day. Since I had nothing to lose, I asked for two 12 Gbyte ARM instances, which consumed all of the 24 Gbytes RAM offered. At this point, I have four Oracle Free Tier instances - two 1 Gbyte AMD and two 12 Gbyte ARM. Each pair has one Oracle Linux and one Ubuntu. Less than four weeks later, all four were suspended by Oracle for underuse, which was deserved. I clicked a button to reactivate each one and they all came up immediately. Despite low use, Oracle has not suspended them again, but I fully expect it. I have been busy with other projects.

    I hope this information helps others.

    Thanked by (3)FrankZ AuroraZero julien
  • I have been using Oracle Free Tier for about two years without issues. Now dropping my RackNerd VPS'es as Oracle will suffice.

    I'm running three instanced with FreePBX, HomeAssistant and Zabbix. I had to add additional tasks to the Zabbix instance as they wanted to suspend it due to "inactivity".

    Thanked by (3)xleet FrankZ julien
  • @root said:
    When one pays, one has some protection within economic trade legislation. A paid server is a better choice.

    Sure, but sometimes you can have both. I mean: I also have paid servers from providers, some of them sometimes listed on LES, but this Oracle machine allow me to host stuff that requires lots of memory and don't need very high reliability such as personal projects around Java VMs. For this usage I think this is fine, it means I can use my paid server for more important stuff.

  • I have my 4 VMs (2x Intel and 2x ARM) since the free tier on them became available. One has been completely idle since I set it up, another I'm using as a production cluster member. Nothing has been suspended and they are much more reliable than other providers I'm using, with very few exceptions.

    I upgraded to a paid account because I wanted to try Oracle's DNS (which is not bad, except for the UI). This has probably made a difference in how things are treated by their scripts. My bill is $0. I've never been charged anything except what I knew in advance I'd be charged for (some backup images and DNS).

    Understood that everyone's experiences are different and some will go away with a bad taste, but for me it has been quite positive.

    Thanked by (2)FrankZ xleet
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