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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

What is GPU Cloud and How Can You Use It?

11 February 2020 by Charlotte Greene

If you’re looking for a way to achieve high-performance, reliable and fast compute, the answer you’re looking for is GPU cloud. In which case, you’re definitely in the right place.

GPU cloud is fast becoming a necessity for modern-day organisations. As the use of high-compute functions like molecular modelling, AI and big data continues to rise, the speed at which we expect our technology to carry out these functions does also.

But what is a GPU, for what roles do you require one and how do you use a GPU effectively? Let’s find out.

GPU vs CPU

Firstly, GPU stands for graphics processing unit and is a programmable logic chip (processor) specially designed for display functions. It differs from the classic CPU (central processing unit) in two ways.

The first is power. Overall, GPUs are a lot more powerful than CPUs when carrying out tasks that require multiple calculations at once. This is due to the fact that a typical CPU has 28 processing cores, whereas a GPU has 5000 processing cores. Depending on the function you need it for, one single GPU can replace 54 CPU sockets!

This power also links into speed. Because of a GPUs high number of cores it is able to run many calculations in parallel exponentially faster than a CPU.

When do you need a GPU?

As you may have guessed from the name, GPUs were originally designed to accelerate the creation and rendering of graphics to produce really high quality displays. And this is still the reason that many will invest in one today – you’ll find GPUs embedded into your mobile phone, your laptop, workstations, game consoles and other common devices.

But they’re not just great for anything graphics based.  GPUs are essential for anything compute-heavy, including CAD/CAM, bioinformatics, HPC, big data and AI and machine learning (ML). All of the problems that you use a GPU to solve are very discreet mathematics problems. A GPU enables you to divide these problems into thousands of subsets and do them all at the same time.

In particular, as our love for automation and artificially intelligent technology grows, there will no doubt be a huge growth in demand for GPUs in coming years.

The neural networks in AI and ML have lots of components. And these work really well when ran on a GPU because you can run all of these parts i.e. calculations in parallel. So, when you’re trying to train your neural network, a GPU can do it exponentially faster than a CPU.

GPUs specialised for AI and ML – such as the NVIDIA® Tesla® v100 GPU used by UKFast’s eCloud® GPU offering – contain tensor cores which are a type of processing core specialising in matrix mathematics specifically designed for deep learning.

Cloud vs device GPU

As well as the technical support element of investing in a cloud solution, there are two main advantages of investing in a cloud-based GPU offering such as eCloud® GPU.

Cost

A good-quality GPU card will set you back at least a few hundred pounds and with the top-tier specifications you can expect this to be well into the thousands.

At UKFast, we only offer the market-leading NVIDIA® Tesla® v100 GPUs, which provide seven teraFLOPS of double provision performance and 14 teraFLOPS single provision performance. These cards also contain tensor cores which offer 112 teraFLOPS of tensor performance, making them perfect for your deep learning requirements.

But the cool thing about eCloud® GPU is that it’s all pay-as-you-go pricing. So, if you only actually need GPU power for an hour, that’s all you pay for. This works out significantly cheaper than buying one outright, plus it means that whatever your budget, you have access to top-of-the-range tech.

A NVIDIA® Tesla® v100 GPU also only usually comes as a full card. But if you only actually need half a card worth of performance, we offer this option too!

So, this option is cost-effective and flexible, what else?

Performance

Ah yes. There’s a huge advantage to performance when you choose eCloud® GPU over putting your own GPU in your workstation.

As mentioned before, we only use the best GPUs on the market, so you’re guaranteed optimum performance from that perspective. In addition, when you’re already a user of our eCloud® platform, you can launch an instance and it will be tightly integrated into your systems straight away on the same network. This makes the process ultra-efficient, super-fast and ensures fantastic performance at every stage.

Overall, GPUs are perfect for those tasks that require tonnes of computing power to churn out many calculations in parallel. They can be used for way more than just graphics. And if you’re looking to test out what a GPU can do for you, we’d highly recommend the PAYG cloud option.

Discover eCloud® GPU! Speak to one of our GPU experts now to find out more.

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