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Basics of GPU Servers

Basics of GPU Servers

Servers are essential in the modern world. They do the heavy lifting that allows all of us to enjoy the many perks of a digitally connected life. Whether browsing the internet, using a favorite app, or even talking on the phone, servers are playing critical roles at every juncture.

With so much depending on servers, it’s not surprising to see that they continually experience serious innovation. Today’s servers can run laps around those used even five years ago, and there are a few key reasons for that.

One of those reasons is the use of GPUs. GPU servers are becoming more common, and they offer a lot to any enterprise that might put them to use.

What Is a GPU Server?

A GPU server is a server that uses a graphics processing unit for some parts of internal computation. These servers still have CPUs, but they leverage the power of the GPU to handle many of the most processing-intensive tasks.

These tasks can include graphical rendering, number crunching, and anything else that would normally tax a CPU.

GPU servers come in a range of sizes and scales, so you can have a server with a single GPU or many GPUs all working together. The concept was largely developed for cryptocurrency mining, but today, you can find GPU servers designed for many different tasks.

How Is it Different from Other Servers?

Most servers maximize CPU usage. Any graphics processing is minimal. This is largely because servers often don’t even need a direct display, so graphics processing is a peripheral concern. Because of this, servers have traditionally forgone the inclusion of powerful graphics processing units.

GPU servers are not including the GPU devices strictly for graphics processing (although in some cases that is a primary role). Instead, they are leveraging the incredibly high processing bandwidth capabilities of modern GPUs to handle some of the most processing-intensive tasks that the server will face. It enables servers to handle much more powerful processing without adding nearly as much hardware as is required for CPU-focused devices.

Pros of GPU Servers

GPU servers are rising in popularity because they offer some very clear advantages. Pound for pound, GPU servers offer dramatically higher processing speeds. The processing bandwidth of modern GPUs is an order of magnitude or more higher than that of modern CPUs.

GPU servers also produce clear images and are obviously superior for graphically intensive tasks.

Because GPUs can handle more calculations per second than CPUs, GPU servers provide advantages in space and power efficiency, allowing a single server to handle a larger workload.

Cons of GPU Servers

Pound for pound, GPU servers cost more than their counterparts. Even though the GPU servers can offer higher efficiency, if GPU bandwidth isn’t needed, then GPU servers typically offer overkill and come at too high a price for their role.

GPU servers are still uncommon for many small and medium business applications. Such servers simply don’t need GPU power scaling.

Even in enterprise applications, GPU servers are not always the most cost-effective solution.

Lastly, GPU servers are relatively new, so they are not optimized for all use cases.

Common Use Cases for GPU Servers

GPU servers really shine when computation speed is the limiting factor for the server. Anything that requires extremely large numbers of calculations, like cryptology, is ideal for a GPU server.

This can include deep learning, scientific computing, and even cloud services. The GPU design structure is simply better suited for large numbers of rapid calculations.

Outside of that niche, GPU servers are also ideal for video processing. Servers that primarily work in video encoding and decoding are better suited for GPU-based designs. That would include servers for video services like Netflix and YouTube, and smaller-scale projects in the same vein.

Additional Learning Center Resources