When most people talk about server power, it’s in relation to the processor (or processors) installed. However, there’s a different class of server that can dramatically increase performance, while reducing power usage: a GPU server. Switching to use graphics cards for certain tasks shows you how GPU servers can benefit your business.
How GPU servers can benefit your business – What is a GPU server?
CPUs are designed for general purpose computing, able to handle anything thrown at them. As such, for running a flexible array of applications, such as an email server, web client or word processing application, they’re ideal. Yet, if focused on a specific task, custom hardware designed to do that job will be faster than a CPU.
A good example of this is Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), which are built differently to CPUs. Designed specifically for generating realistic 3D graphics at speed, GPUs are built to process fast and accurate floating-point number arithmetic. GPUs typically have slower core speeds than CPUs, but they can have thousands of cores running in parallel. The result is that certain mathematical operations can run faster on a GPU than a CPU.
GPU servers, as the name suggests, are servers packed with graphics cards, designed to harness this raw processing power. Using an offloading process, the CPU can hand specific tasks to the GPUs, increasing performance.
Benchmarks using the TensorFlow machine learning framework, show that an Nvidia GeForce 1070 graphics card is around 16x faster than an Intel Core i7-7500U CPU. And, as well as being faster, the relative performance requires less energy, helping to reduce heat and power consumption.
With the right choice of GPU server, such as the ASUS ESC8000 G3 server, which can take eight full-size PCI-E graphics cards, high-performance computing can be accelerated, requiring less space.
How GPU servers can benefit your business – What can GPU servers do?
GPUs are built for high-speed graphics, but their architecture and high-speed mathematical processing makes them well-suited for dealing with some high-performance computing tasks.
Utilising a GPU means having applications that are written to offload specific tasks to the CPU. It’s similar to how games run: on a PC, the process of handling the rendering of graphics is passed to the GPU, while the CPU handles other aspects of the game.
Key to the GPU’s success is the way it handles parallel computing. Thanks to thousands of cores, more significant tasks can be broken down into smaller computations that are executed in parallel. The result is that a GPU can complete some tasks many times faster than a CPU.
A lot of the talk about GPUs revolves around their use in supercomputers, the likes of which help predict the weather or are used for DNA sequencing. Yet, for general business use, GPU servers have a proven track record, and can be used to accelerate compatible database queries, big data modelling, and statistical analysis. GPUs are also powering the next wave of AI applications, and have proved popular for cryptocurrency mining.
As well as using applications developed to use GPUs, Nvidia also has its CUDA platform, which lets you develop your own GPU-accelerated applications.
GPU servers aren’t the answer to every business problem, but with the right tools and applications, they’re capable of accelerating your business and performing complicated queries faster than a CPU, all while using less energy.
Find out more about ASUS’s range of powerful GPU servers.