Azure Adds D_v3 and E_v3 Virtual Machine Series

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Microsoft launched 2 new series of virtual machines in July, the D_v3 and the E_v3, which are successors to the D_v2-Series. There are some interesting new firsts with these series. In this article, I will discuss the features of these new series and how this impacts the promotional pricing of the D_v2-Series virtual machines.

Successor Series

This is not the first time that Microsoft has launched a successor series of virtual machines. In the past, the Standard A_v2-Series replaced the Standard A-Series with a more recognizable set of sizes and lower costs. We have seen the D_v2-Series come in with newer hardware and (eventually) lower costs than the original D-Series.

Recently, Microsoft has started to split the categorization of the D_v2-Series machines into two groupings:

  • General purpose: A normal balance of CPU to RAM, including the D1_v2 to D5_v2 machines
  • Memory optimized: Higher than normal RAM, including the D11_v2 to D15_v2 machines

This split is a little confusing. Instead of continuing this split of the D-Series, Microsoft has decided to replace the D_v2 machines in the memory optimized category with a new E_v3 series. The general purpose D_v2 virtual machines are replaced by the new D_v3 virtual machines.

Host Changes

The D_v2-Series machines were based on a 2.4GHz Intel Xeon E5-2673 v3 (Haswell) processor, which is capable of bursting up to 3.1GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. The D_v3 and the E_v3-Series machines are based on the newer 2.3GHz Intel XEON ® E5-2673 v4 (Broadwell) processor, which can achieve up to 3.5GHz. This is also with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, which is an extra .4GHz.

Since last year, the two new series have departed from the multiples of 1.75GB RAM and have moved to using recognizable quantities of CPU and RAM. The name of the virtual machine size indicates the number of processors and RAM amounts are a multiple of the vCPU count. For example:

  • The D2_v3 has 2 virtual processors and 8GB (x4) RAM.
  • The D4_v3 has 4 virtual processors and 16GB (x4) RAM.

The D_v3 and E_v3 also introduce the usage of Intel Hyperthreading. Past machines did not use Hyperthreading. As a result, you should notice a significant (up to 28 percent, according to Microsoft) price reduction between the regular price of the D_v2-Series and the D_v3-Series (West US 2 region):

  • D2_v2 with 2 cores and 7GB RAM costs $108.63 per month.
  • D2_v3 with 2 virtual CPUs and 8GB RAM costs $74.40 per month.

Nested Virtualization

Another significant change is that the v3 virtual machines and the M-Series run on hosts that are powered by Windows Server 2016 (WS2016) Hyper-V. That does not mean all that much by itself but it does mean that some WS2016 features might start to appear over time. The first of these new features is the support of nested virtualization. You can run Hyper-V virtual machines inside of the Azure (Hyper-V) virtual machines.
I would not start by saying, “Hey let’s run production Hyper-V clusters on Azure,” but there will be some interesting scenarios:

  • Those of us that need accessible pay-as-you-go demo and training labs without expensive hardware have a new option.
  • Azure virtual machines can host Hyper-V containers. This is probably the core scenario that Microsoft was focusing on.


My guess is that new hardware is being deployed to support these two new series of virtual machines. This means that availability is limited to a few regions but this will grow over time:

  • West US 2
  • East US 2
  • West Europe
  • Southeast Asia

D_v2 Promotional Pricing

Microsoft offered promotional pricing for the D_v2-Series ahead of the launch of the D_v3- and E_v3-Series machines. This was probably done to seed the adoption. The pricing of the older series was to roughly match the two new ones.
Microsoft will be winding down this promotional offer in regions where the D_v3 and E_v3 are now available. Customers will be able to deploy the D_v2 promotional machines until August 15th in the above regions. In the remaining regions without D_v3 and E_v3 availability, the promotional offer will continue until the new series are launched.

All currently deployed D_v2_promo virtual machines (a specific set of SKUs) will continue to be billed using the promotional pricing until June 30, 2018. At that time, the machines will revert back to D_v2 pricing. You should either stick with D_v2 machines or upgrade them to D_v3 or E_v3 machines.