Old or New, It’s a GP 4 U: NVIDIA VCA

Now that GPU virtualization is being supported at the hypervisor layer both user and vendor alike are rushing to use and get new products out the door, Nutanix included. Like anything new in the Enterprise space, the wheels of change can sometimes be slow. Upgrading a 2,000+ VDI enviroment consisting of hypervisor and your favorite flavour of VDI can take some time to sort out and push through the bowls of change management. On the vendor side of the house the GRID K1 & GRID K2 cards are huge power sucking beasts, new hardware is going to be needed. If your thinking about putting these cards in a server that’s not listed you might want to talk to the NVIDA rep that the server has enough airflow to cool the card.

Number of GPUs 4 x entry Kepler GPUs 2 x high-end Kepler GPUs
Total NVIDIA CUDA cores 768 3072
Total memory size 16 GB DDR3 8 GB GDDR5
Max power 130 W 225 W
Idle power 35 W  
Board length 10.5” 10.5”
Board height 4.4” 4.4”
Board width Dual slot Dual slot
Display IO None None
Aux power 6-pin connector 8-pin connector
PCIe x16 x16
PCIe generation Gen3 (Gen2 compatible) Gen3 (Gen2 compatible)
Cooling solution Passive Passive

So what happens if you just spent all your budget on your VDI project? While not released yet I think GRID Visual Computing Appliance(VCA) may be the answer for your GPU workloads. Remote GPU is offered as workspaces that get created on the VCA. The workspaces themselves are really just virtual machines getting spun up and spun down. The 4U appliance houses 16 NVIDIA GPUs and GRID VGX software, providing up to 16 concurrent users, with low-latency & high-resolution. The only downfall I can see with using the appliance with VDI is your still going to see increased pressure for encoding\decoding of the protocol traffic.

GRID VCA Configurations
GPU Memory 32 GB 64 GB
System Memory 192 GB 384 GB
CPU 16 thread CPU 32 thread CPU
Number of Users up to 8 concurrent up to 16 concurrent
Price $24,900 + $2,400/year for software license $39,900 + $4,800/year for software license

Some current companies that are endorsing the use are:

* Autodesk
* Adobe Systems
* Solidworks

While it won’t be the same experience as having the GPU in the server it might be enough. The catch is applications running the VCA need to be heavy GPU and light on CPU. 3D applications would be fine but applications like Adobe Premiere might not make a good fit. The pricing seems high to me but buying special workstations for users has it’s costs too.

I will continue to track the appliance and hope to have more information before the products goes on the market for sale sometime in May.

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