Optimizing Kubernetes Cost Efficiency and Environmental Sustainability with ARM-64 Control Planes and Virtual Clusters

Cliff Malmborg
5 Minute Read

In the dynamic landscape of Kubernetes hosting, cost efficiency and environmental sustainability are a pivotal concern for organizations aiming to maximize their IT budget while ensuring robust performance and minimizing their carbon footprint. A compelling strategy that addresses both concerns is the segregation of control planes and workloads across different node types, specifically using ARM-64 for control planes and AMD64 for computational workloads. This approach not only promises significant cost savings but also contributes to a reduced environmental impact.

Understanding the Architectural Split

The architectural proposition involves running Kubernetes control planes on ARM-64 based instances, which are typically cheaper than their AMD64 counterparts. The control plane handles the orchestration and management tasks of the Kubernetes cluster, which, while crucial, do not usually require the high computational power that AMD64 nodes provide. By deploying control planes on ARM-64, organizations can leverage cost-effective solutions that also reduce energy consumption, aligning financial goals with environmental responsibilities. 

ARM-64’s versatility allows it to be utilized effectively in both self-managed data centers and public cloud environments. For example, in the public cloud, organizations can take advantage of ARM-64 based AWS Graviton processors, which offer additional cost and energy efficiency benefits. This flexibility ensures that regardless of the deployment environment, the benefits of using ARM-64 can be fully realized.

Workload Deployment on AMD64

The AMD64 nodes, known for their higher computing power and efficiency, are ideal for handling the intensive workloads of applications. These nodes can effectively manage high-performance tasks, including data processing, machine learning, and large-scale transaction processing. By isolating workloads to AMD64 nodes, organizations ensure that performance-critical components of their applications run on the most suitable hardware, optimizing both performance and energy usage.

Implementation Strategies

The implementation of this cost-saving and eco-friendly architecture can be approached in two ways:

  1. Single Host Cluster with Different Node Pools: This method involves a single Kubernetes cluster with separate node pools for the control planes and workloads. Using Kubernetes features such as taints and node selectors, the control plane components can be isolated to run exclusively on the cheaper and more energy-efficient ARM-64 nodes, while the workload nodes operate on the more robust AMD64 nodes.
  2. Dual Host Cluster with Isolated Control Planes: For environments where isolation and resource optimization are paramount, deploying two separate clusters might be more beneficial. One cluster, running on cost-effective and energy-efficient ARM-64 nodes, would exclusively manage the control plane. The second cluster, equipped with high-performance AMD64 nodes, would handle the workloads. This setup not only enhances performance but also boosts security and sustainability by physically isolating the control plane from the workload processing.

Cost-Benefit and Environmental Analysis

Adopting ARM-64 nodes for control planes significantly reduces the cost per instance and lowers the energy requirements, leading to a direct reduction in operational expenditures and environmental impact. Although the initial setup, especially in a dual-cluster environment, might introduce some complexity and overhead, the long-term savings, enhanced performance, and reduced carbon footprint justify the investment.

Leveraging Virtual Clusters and ARM-64 Control Planes

The use of virtual clusters, such as those provided by vCluster, can further amplify the cost and environmental advantages of using ARM-64 based control planes in Kubernetes deployments. Virtual clusters offer a unique combination of isolation, efficiency, and scalability that can significantly enhance both the economic and ecological footprint of cloud infrastructure.

Cost Efficiency through Resource Optimization

Virtual clusters allow multiple isolated Kubernetes clusters to run on a single physical cluster. This ability to multiplex a physical cluster into several virtual ones means that organizations can maximize their resource usage more effectively. When combined with ARM-64 control planes, the overhead typically associated with running multiple separate physical clusters is drastically reduced. This results in lower costs for hardware, maintenance, and energy consumption.

Enhanced Scalability with Minimal Overhead

Virtual clusters provide the scalability benefits of having multiple clusters without the need to provision additional physical hardware. This is particularly advantageous when using ARM-64, as these processors are highly efficient at handling the orchestration layer with minimal resource requirements. Organizations can scale their operations up or down based on demand without significant capital expenditures or increased energy usage, thus maintaining a low environmental impact.

Reduced Energy Consumption

The energy efficiency of ARM-64 processors is well-documented, and when these processors are used to manage virtual clusters, the energy savings become even more pronounced. Virtual clusters minimize the need for physical hardware and the associated energy consumption that comes with powering and cooling additional servers. By consolidating control planes into fewer, more efficient ARM-64 nodes, organizations can achieve significant reductions in their overall energy usage.

Simplified Management and Maintenance

Virtual clusters simplify the management of Kubernetes environments by isolating the control plane and reducing the complexity associated with operating multiple physical clusters. This streamlined management not only saves operational costs but also reduces the chances of over-provisioning or inefficient resource allocation, both of which can lead to unnecessary energy use and increased costs.

Environmental Impact

By reducing the number of physical servers required and optimizing the use of those that are employed, virtual clusters contribute to a lower carbon footprint. The environmental benefits are twofold: direct reductions in energy consumption and indirect reductions from fewer manufacturing and disposal processes associated with hardware lifecycle management.


Integrating virtual clusters from vCluster with ARM-64 based control planes offers a synergistic approach to managing Kubernetes environments that is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. This combination not only optimizes resource utilization but also aligns with sustainable practices, ensuring that organizations can scale efficiently while supporting their green computing initiatives. As more companies seek to reduce their environmental impact without compromising on performance, the role of virtual clusters and energy-efficient architectures like ARM-64 will become increasingly crucial in the landscape of modern IT infrastructure.

Reach out to us today to learn more about how vCluster can help you reduce your Kubernetes cost and carbon footprint. Contact us for a personalized consultation and discover the benefits of virtual clusters for your business.

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