Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Google Joins Rush to Nvidia Cloud GPUs 

Google has taken down the notice on its cloud platform website that says Nvidia Tesla P100s are “coming soon.” The search giant announced Thursday (Sept. 21) the beta launch of the high-end P100 Nvidia Tesla GPUs on the Google Cloud Platform as well as general availability of Tesla P80s, which have been in public beta since February.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) also announced discounts for users running virtual machine instances for more than one week per month on Google Compute Engine. The discounts that increase on a sliding scale based on monthly usage apply to both K80 and P100 GPUs. Google said the discounts mean customers pay only for the number of minutes they use an instance during a given month.

Google and other public cloud providers have been ramping GPU integration on their platforms as a way of differentiating their services in a cutthroat market that is gradually shifting to multi-cloud deployments. A recent industry survey found that enterprises are on average using three public cloud providers as they seek spread out workloads and avoid vendor lock in.

For its part, Google is stressing cloud GPUs as a way of accelerating workloads that utilize machine learning training and inference as well as geophysical data processing, genomics and other high-performance computing applications.

Released last year as a datacenter accelerator, the Tesla P100 GPU based on its Pascal architecture is touted as delivering a ten-fold performance increase compared to the K80. Google said the roll out would allow cloud customers to attach up to four P100s or eight K80s per VM. It is also offering up to four K80 boards with two GPUs per board.

Google is the latest public cloud vendor to embrace Nvidia's P100 GPUs for hardware acceleration in the cloud. Cloud rivals IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) both announced earlier this year they would incorporate the graphics processors into cloud offerings. IBM said in April it would add P100s to its Bluemix development cloud for customers running computing intensive workloads such as deep learning and data analytics. Microsoft followed in May with plans to debut Pascal-generation GPU instances on its Azure cloud later this year

With K80 GPUs from Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) now generally available on Google Compute Engine and P100s on deck on its cloud platform, cloud GPUs are now being integrated "at all levels of the stack," the company noted in a blog post announcing the hardware upgrades.

In terms of infrastructure, GPU workloads can run with VMs or application containers. For machine learning applications, Google stressed that its cloud tools could be reconfigured to leverage cloud GPUs to reduce the time required to train and scale models using the TensorFlow machine intelligence library.

The cloud GPUs are available within Google's U.S. East and West Coast regions as well as European West and Asia East regions.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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