Nvidia's GRID VCA is an end-to-end GPU virtualization system


— 3:09 PM on March 19, 2013

Nvidia is invested in remote GPU virtualization on several fronts, including its GeForce GRID cloud gaming servers and its Project Shield handheld device. At its GPU Technology Conference today, the firm unveiled another addition to the mix: GRID VCA, which is billed as the "world's first visual computing appliance." During his GTC keynote address, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang was adamant that GRID VCA is a full system rather than just a server. The hardware resides in a rack-friendly 4U chassis, and it comes with software that manages the host and client sides of the equation. 

Source: Nvidia

On the hardware side, the appliance pairs dual Xeon processors with up to 384GB of system memory. As many as eight GeForce GRID compute cards can be stuffed into the chassis, and each of those cards has dual Kepler-based GPUs. With 16 GPUs in total, a single GRID VCA box is capable of fueling 16 simultaneous user sessions, each of which offers full GPU acceleration. Those sessions can be controlled by PCs, Macs, or ARM-based systems.

Nvidia provides the client software for those systems, and it's also supplying the hypervisor for the server. Client machines can connect to multiple sessions at once, a capability demoed during the keynote using a single MacBook to manage three independent workspaces. Interestingly, the software license supports an unlimited number of client devices.

GRID VCA is currently in beta, and it looks like two models are planned. The base config will sell for $24,900 and offer 16 CPU threads, eight GPUs, and 192GB of RAM. This puppy should support eight simultaneous sessions and will cost $2,400 per year for software licensing. The top model doubles up on everything in the base config, including the software licensing cost, but is priced at a bit of a discount: $39,900.

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