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Karpenter Add-on

Karpenter add-on is based on the Karpenter open source node provisioning project. For this add-on, it will utilize the AWS provider, to ensure a more efficient and cost-effective way to manage workloads by launching just the right compute resources to handle a cluster's application on your EKS cluster.

Karpenter works by:

  • Watching for pods that the Kubernetes scheduler has marked as unschedulable,
  • Evaluating scheduling constraints (resource requests, nodeselectors, affinities, tolerations, and topology spread constraints) requested by the pods,
  • Provisioning nodes that meet the requirements of the pods,
  • Scheduling the pods to run on the new nodes, and
  • Removing the nodes when the nodes are no longer needed


  1. There is no support for utilizing both Cluster Autoscaler and Karpenter. Therefore, any addons list that has both will result in an error Deploying <name of your stack> failed due to conflicting add-on: ClusterAutoscalerAddOn..

  2. (If using Spot), EC2 Spot Service Linked Role should be created. See here for more details.

  3. Amazon EKS cluster with supported Kubernetes version. Karpenter provides minimum supported Karpenter versions for each Kubernetes version in form of a matrix here.


import 'source-map-support/register';
import * as cdk from 'aws-cdk-lib';
import * as blueprints from '@aws-quickstart/eks-blueprints';
import { EbsDeviceVolumeType } from 'aws-cdk-lib/aws-ec2';
import { KubernetesVersion } from 'aws-cdk-lib/aws-eks';

const app = new cdk.App();

const karpenterAddOn = new blueprints.addons.KarpenterAddOn({
    version: 'v0.33.1',
    nodePoolSpec: {
      labels: {
          type: "karpenter-test"
      annotations: {
          "eks-blueprints/owner": "young"
      taints: [{
          key: "workload",
          value: "test",
          effect: "NoSchedule",
      requirements: [
          { key: '', operator: 'In', values: ['m5.2xlarge'] },
          { key: '', operator: 'In', values: ['us-west-2a','us-west-2b', 'us-west-2c']},
          { key: '', operator: 'In', values: ['amd64','arm64']},
          { key: '', operator: 'In', values: ['spot']},
      disruption: {
          consolidationPolicy: "WhenEmpty",
          consolidateAfter: "30s",
          expireAfter: "20m",
          budgets: [{nodes: "10%"}]
    ec2NodeClassSpec: {
      amiFamily: "AL2",
      subnetSelectorTerms: [{ tags: { "Name": "my-stack-name/my-stack-name-vpc/PrivateSubnet*" }}],
      securityGroupSelectorTerms: [{ tags: { "aws:eks:cluster-name": "my-stack-name" }}],
    interruptionHandling: true,

const blueprint = blueprints.EksBlueprint.builder()
  .build(app, 'my-stack-name');

The add-on automatically sets Helm Chart values, and it is recommended not to pass custom values for the following: - settings.clusterName - settings.interruptionQueue (if interruption handling is enabled) - serviceAccount.create - -

To validate that Karpenter add-on is running ensure that the add-on deployments for the controller and the webhook are in RUNNING state:

# Assuming add-on is installed in the karpenter namespace.
$ kubectl get po -n karpenter
NAME                                          READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
blueprints-addon-karpenter-54fd978b89-hclmp   2/2     Running   0          99m


  1. Creates Karpenter Node Role, Karpenter Instance Profile, and Karpenter Controller Policy (Please see Karpenter documentation here for more details on what is required and why).
  2. Creates karpenter namespace.
  3. Creates Kubernetes Service Account, and associate AWS IAM Role with Karpenter Controller Policy attached using IRSA.
  4. Deploys Karpenter helm chart in the karpenter namespace, configuring the cluster name, endpoint, Instance Profile, and others necessary for functional addon.
  5. If the user provides nodePoolSpec (and ec2NodeClassSpec), the addon will provisions a default Karpenter NodePool and EC2NodeClass CRDs. nodePoolSpec requires requirements while ec2NodeClassSpec requires subnets and security groups. Based on what version of Karpenter you provide, you will need either subnetSelector and securityGroupSelector (for versions v0.31.x or down), or subnetSelectorTerms and securityGroupSelectorTerms (for versions v0.32.x and up).
  6. As mentioned above, the CRDs installed will be different from v0.32.0, since Karpenter as a project graduated to beta in October 2023. This meant significant API changes, going from alpha to beta. The addon has reflected those changes and will deploy NodePool and EC2NodeClass for v1beta1 CRDs, versus Provisioner and AWSNodeTemplate for v1alpha5. You can read more about the changes in this blog.

NOTE: EKS Blueprints npm v1.14 and above introduces breaking changes to the addon. Please see Upgrade Path for more details.

Using Karpenter

To use Karpenter, you need to provision a Karpenter NodePool and EC2NodeClass. NodePool sets constraints on the nodes that can be created by Karpenter and the pods that can run on those nodes. EC2NodeClass, once associated with a NodePool, will then provision those nodes (in the form of EC2 instances) based on the AWS specific settings. Multiple NodePools may point to the same EC2NodeClass.

This can be done in 2 ways:

  1. Provide the properties as show in Usage. If the NodePoolSpec is not provided, the addon will not deploy a NodePool or EC2NodeClass.

  2. Use kubectl to apply a sample NodePool and EC2NodeClass:

    cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
    kind: NodePool
      name: default
            name: default
    kind: EC2NodeClass
      name: default
      amiFamily: AL2
        - tags:
        # Select on any security group that has both the " ${CLUSTER_NAME}" tag
        # AND the "environment: test" tag OR any security group with the "my-security-group" name
        # OR any security group with ID "sg-063d7acfb4b06c82c"
        - tags:
      role: "KarpenterNodeRole-${CLUSTER_NAME}"
      userData: |
        echo "Hello world"    
        team: team-a
        app: team-a-app
        httpEndpoint: enabled
        httpProtocolIPv6: disabled
        httpPutResponseHopLimit: 2
        httpTokens: required
        - deviceName: /dev/xvda
            volumeSize: 100Gi
            volumeType: gp3
            iops: 10000
            encrypted: true
            kmsKeyID: "1234abcd-12ab-34cd-56ef-1234567890ab"
            deleteOnTermination: true
            throughput: 125
            snapshotID: snap-0123456789
      detailedMonitoring: true

If you choose to create NodePool and EC2NodeClass manually, you MUST provide the tags that match the subnet and the security group from the Blueprints EKS cluster that you plan to use.

Testing with a sample deployment

Now that the provisioner is deployed, Karpenter is active and ready to provision nodes. Create some pods using a deployment:

cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: inflate
  replicas: 0
      app: inflate
        app: inflate
      terminationGracePeriodSeconds: 0
        - name: inflate
              cpu: 1

Now scale the deployment:

kubectl scale deployment inflate --replicas 10

The provisioner will then start deploying more nodes to deploy the scaled replicas. You can verify by either looking at the karpenter controller logs,

kubectl logs -f -n karpenter $(kubectl get pods -n karpenter -l karpenter=controller -o name)

or, by looking at the nodes being created:

kubectl get nodes


The following are common troubleshooting issues observed when implementing Karpenter:

  1. For Karpenter version older than 0.14.0 deployed on Fargate Profiles, values.yaml must be overridden, setting dnsPolicy to Default. Versions after 0.14.0 has dnsPolicy value set default to Default. This is to ensure CoreDNS is set correctly on Fargate nodes.

  2. With the upgrade to the new OCI registry starting with v0.17.0, if you try to upgrade you may get a following error:

Received response status [FAILED] from custom resource. Message returned: Error: b'Error: path "/tmp/tmpkxgr57q5/blueprints-addon-karpenter" not found\n' 

Karpenter, starting from the OCI registry versions, will untar the files under karpenter release name only. So if you have previous version deployed under a different release name, you will run into the above error. Therefore, in order to upgrade, you will have to take the following steps:

  1. Remove the existing add-on.
  2. Re-deploy the Karpenter add-on with the release name karpenter.

Upgrade Path

The addon introduces breaking changes for Blueprints npm version v0.14 and later. Here are the details:

  • EKS Blueprints will only support minimum Karpenter version that matches the supporter EKS Kubernetes version. Please see the compatibility matrix here. If you provide incompatible version (i.e. providing version 0.27.x for EKS version 1.27), you will see warnings in the logs but will proceed deployment. You will run into compatibility issues.
  • The add-on will no longer support any versions below v0.21.0
  • User provided properties have been refactored to better reflect the parameters of the various Karpenter resources (i.e. NodePool, EC2NodeClass)
  • For NodePool and EC2NodeClass, the parameters will apply to either the v1alpha5 CRDs ( provisioner, AWSNodeTemplate, for Karpenter versions v0.31.x or earlier) or v1beta1 CRDs (NodePool, EC2NodeClass, for Karpenter versions v0.32.x and later). If you provide non-matching parameters, i.e. providing consolidation instead of disruption for Karpenter version v0.33.1, you will see an error with stack failing to provision. Please consult the upgrade guide to see the changes for various versions.

If you are upgrading from earlier version of Blueprints and need to add the Karpenter addon, please ensure the following:

  1. You are using the minimum Karpenter version supported by the Kubernetes version of your blueprint cluster. Not doing so will cause incompatibility issues.

  2. Starting v0.32.0, Karpenter introduces the new beta APIs (v1beta1), and therefore the addon will make v1alpha5 CRDs obsolete. Ensure that you are providing the corresponding, matching parameters.