Nvidia trims expectations for supercomputer users

A top visualisation scientist has heard that chip maker Nvidia is trimming its drivers to only support eight GPUs per system image instead of the promised 16.

Supercomputer expert Randall Hand said  that at the moment NVidia’s drivers allow you to run eight GPUs on a single computer simultaneously but the company has been talking about moving to 16 for a while.

OK, it is not likely to be something you would want to do unless you wanted to set up some serious GPGPU system, but apparently there are those who want to do it.

Amongst those who want to wire up several machines to create one big one shoving 16 GPUs in an SGI UltraViolet machine and access all 16 of them from their one OS install is something worth doing on a rainy afternoon.

According to Hand, several of the larger labs have been pushing NVidia to raise the limit so that they can add more GPUs to their machines.

However, Nvidia does not believe that there is enough interest to prop up 16+ GPUs in a single system and wants to freeze it at eight and give up on the idea of moving to 12 or 16.

Hand thinks this is barking. While it it is true that the market is small,it has deep pockets. It is also the market that Nvidia is trying to gain credibility with.

Cutting back on the number of images will alienate a few of Nvidia’s vendor partners such as NextIO, which wanted to build a big PCI Express Expansion Chassis’ that will allow up to 24 GPUs to be connected to a single PC.