The Evolving Role of Graphics Processing Units

By Earthnet Inc. February 26, 2019

A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) can increase the quality and speed of graphics displayed on a computer. For this reason, they’ve become increasingly popular in the last year. A GPU renders graphics on a computer server rather than the endpoint device. 

Before GPUs were introduced in the late 1990s, people relied on Central Processing Units (CPUs) to manage graphics. CPUs handle the basic processing of the operating system through a core. Typically a server will have two to eight CPU cores, but some powerful servers have 32, 64 or more cores.

GPUs can use thousands of cores to process tasks at the same time. A CPU uses fewer cores to process tasks sequentially and can perform basic tasks such as calculations better than a GPU. For companies that use graphics heavy applications, it makes sense to free up the CPU for routine tasks. Let’s take a look at the difference between GPU-based cloud services and GPUs based on premises.

Advantages of GPUs in the Cloud

When considering to use GPUs in the cloud or on premises, it’s important to take into account your company’s needs. Academic institutions that use supercomputing and companies that process a high volume of videos have compute-intensive applications. These companies can benefit from a GPU-based cloud instance. When taking into account the cost, consider that you might have to apply for a limit increase in your cloud services to access the GPUs.

  • Faster compute-intensive applications
  • Less in house IT services needed to setup, troubleshoot and maintain

Advantages of GPUs on Premises

Companies such as eBay and Salesforce are using on-prem GPUs. Typically, these companies have a large IT budget to customize these resources for their needs. 

  • More security for data privacy
  • Less expensive monetary cost to setup than cloud-based GPUs

Innovative Applications of GPUs

When combined with the Internet of Things, GPUs add processing functionality to videos, virtual reality and blockchain computing. GPUs have become the standard hardware for high-end graphics in videos because they can process graphics much more quickly than other means. One application for GPUs is Virtual Reality (VR). This digital interface requires complex tasks such as head tracking and texture rendering while maintaining a high frame rate. High-performance chip makers such as Nvidia Corp., Qualcomm, Inteland Advanced Micro Devices Inc. are competing for presence in VR headsets.

As graphics cards for VR headsets gains popularity, there is also an increasing demand for GPU-based hardware to create new digital currency. Mining digital currencies relies on computationally difficult tasks that are rewarded with new issuances of cryptocurrencies. Some miners have started using lower-cost chipsets called application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), but GPUs are still widely used for mining currency.

There are many applications for GPUs, and as consumers demand more real-life experiences on screen, there will always be a need for platforms to make it happen. Private cloud services are a great way to provide compute-intensive applications accessible to small and medium-sized companies.  While Earthnet does not offer GPUs to customers, it does have a reliable and secure cloud-based service called Fractus.

Secure and Customized Cloud Services

Earthnet offers a secure cloud service solution called Fractus. Unlike public cloud solutions, customers’ data stays in Boulder. Fractus provides many benefits including peer-storage architecture, data protection and an efficient way to access resources such as GPUs. Customers have additional resources with Fractus such as accessibility to engineers at Earthnet.

“One of the great things that Earthnet provides is support—a real person that can talk to you. That doesn’t happen with all of the cloud services out there. If you are nearby, you can come by and talk with us about your problem. Customers can also reach us by phone call or e-mail,” said Chief Systems Engineer Giovanni Sudiro.

Fractus brings efficiency and security in managing your data to meet the needs of your business.Find out how Earthnet can implement a private cloud solution for you. If you’d like to learn more about the services Earthnet can provide for your company, speak with one of our engineers during a free consultation.

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