Volta GPU Accelerators Hit The Streets

September 27, 2017

Announcements of new iron are exciting, but it doesn’t get real until customers beyond the handful of elite early adopters can get their hands on the gear.

Nvidia launched its “Volta” Tesla V100 GPU accelerators back in May, meeting and in some important ways exceeding most of its performance goals, and has been shipping devices, both in PCI-Express and SXM2 form factors, for a few months. Now, the ramp of this complex processor and its packaging of stacked High Bandwidth Memory – HMB2 from Samsung, to be specific – is progressing and the server OEMs and ODMs of the world are getting their hands on the Voltas and putting them into their machines.

We have already talked about the use of the Volta processors in Nvidia’s own DGX-1V server, which crams two Intel Xeon processors and eight Voltas into a single chassis and the first of which shipped to the Center for Clinical Data Science in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The center is the first of a wave of hospitals that will employ deep learning for MR and CT image analysis, and it actually secured four of the Nvidia servers, which is pretty generous given the demand for the Volta accelerators. The bang for the buck on the Volta systems is very good, around 18 percent better compared to the DGX-1P version using last year’s “Pascal” accelerators for both single and double precision math and about 80 percent better on half precision math. (That’s 5.7X better performance on FP16 workloads at a 15.5 percent premium on the server cost.)

As you might imagine, with machine learning all the rage and systems to run these workloads being very beefy, OEMs and ODMs are excited to be peddling gear that employs the new Volta GPU accelerators. We presume the markup on the accelerators is pretty good, and ditto for the servers that have been engineered to have…

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