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Radeon Instinct Accelerators

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Ever since Microsoft’s introduction of its new NVv4 instances in Microsoft Azure, a lot of attention has been rightly focused on the underlying technology. And to be sure, the 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors and AMD Radeon Instinct GPUs underpinning the NVv4 physical platform enable state-of-the-art virtualization solutions for GPU-accelerated workloads in the public cloud.

But while everybody has been busy looking at the “speeds and feeds”, I think the experiences and functionality made possible by NVv4 are more interesting to talk about. With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to begin a series of blogs to help answer the questions, “what can you do with NVv4,” and “what does that experience look like,” from the perspective of end-users;  the workers, makers, do-ers, and creators who will most directly make daily use of the offering.

 

To be clear, GPU acceleration in the cloud is not new, however, NVv4 rewrites the rules in substantial ways. With the arrival of NVv4, GPU acceleration (and virtualization!) in the public cloud is finally coming of age. NVv4 allows for fine-grained provisioning of virtual machines in a golden zone of matched price and performance across the broadest range of requirements for cloud-based Windows 10 desktops, as well as interactive and immersive applications. In short, NVv4 is the multitool of the modern visual cloud.

 

In the past, GPUs in the cloud were limited to one GPU to one user, and they were dang expensive! While it was possible to provide GPU support this way, an enterprise had to pay quite a bit to reserve the needed cloud resources. NVv4 is different because it enables one to right-size cloud-based GPU capacity and performance to fit the job. This flexibility makes a wider range of options feasible to better support both office productivity and power users.

 

Why does GPU support matter?

One of the challenges for cloud-based operations has been the fact that many, and frankly most, modern applications require GPU acceleration to run smoothly and effectively. That goes not only for high-end design software. The everyday business productivity applications used by millions of workers need GPU support too including applications such as Microsoft Office, word processing, spreadsheets, Microsoft PowerPoint, and video conferencing.

 

Added to that, many offices have a population of power users who need to work with media, from a bit of light video/photo editing to desktop design. They expect the application experience to be snappy. In fact, application responsiveness is vital for people to stay in their creative flow, whether that is crunching numbers, drafting a document, or designing a newsletter. GPU support is the secret ingredient that can make sure they all enjoy a great user experience, which leads to better productivity and happy workers.

What is a great user experience?

In the context of the Cloud, a great user experience is one that is comparable to a modern local desktop experience. Of course, that starts with basic application responsiveness. But it also refers to must-have capabilities such as support for high-resolution monitors, multiple monitors, and rich multimedia capabilities. Simply put, when the work moves to the Cloud, users should not be asked to make tradeoffs to get there.

 

How does NVv4 deliver?

To support workers from the cloud, NVv4 for Azure uses Windows Virtual Desktop. Since the applications used are not going to demand all the resources of a high-performance GPU, the platform is designed so that a number of people can happily share the resources of a single CPU and a single GPU. This session-based, desktop as a service (DaaS) solution is well suited to supporting large numbers of workers while making efficient use of processing resources and, therefore, budgets.

 

NVv4 would be compelling even if it only migrated existing office workflows to the Cloud. Not only can this approach deliver a great experience to the worker’s desktop, but it opens remarkable opportunities for flexibility and mobility. No longer needing a high-powered desktop or laptop, NVv4 desktop virtualization combined with ubiquitous access to broadband services at home and on the road, means more people can be as productive away from their desks as they’ve been in the office.

 

 

Things are a lot different today than they were even a year ago in terms of options, pricing, and capabilities for virtualized environments for the majority of office work. Ultimately NVv4 presents an opportunity to revisit and challenge our preconceptions about what is possible for GPU accelerated DaaS from the Cloud.

 

Side by side comparision of a session-based deployment - with and without GPU enabled 

 

In future blogs, we will dig more deeply into both the user experience and the IT management considerations. In particular, I am excited to explore how NVv4 and its AMD-powered GPU support can solve challenges for workers in different industries such as design, manufacturing, architecture, engineering, construction, finance, and others. The opportunities extend far and wide!

 

Other resources to consider: 

 

Adam Glick is a Technical Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied. Use of third-party marks / logos/ products is for informational purposes only and no endorsement of or by AMD is intended or implied.

With the arrival of NVv4 instances for Microsoft Azure, decision-makers in many industries, education and government are asking themselves whether cloud-based virtualized desktops can meet their stringent requirements, both in terms of high productivity and financial feasibility.

 

With the further announcement of NVv4 being successfully tested and recommended by Esri for its flagship ArcGIS Pro applications, the answer is now a clear, yes! After undergoing rigorous testing and detailed evaluation, IT managers and users have the assurance of reliability they need to take their trusted workstation and desktop working environments to the Cloud. This verification and validation is critical because it provides affirmation that NVv4 has been carefully evaluated by Esri to ensure that it is fully optimized to meet the expectations of Esri users and that they can rely on a fully vendor supported solution

 

So what is NVv4?

NVv4 instances for Azure are virtualization solutions that use the power of 2nd generation AMD EPYC processors and Radeon Instinct GPUs from the Cloud. The close, balanced interplay between these resources is the key to making affordable, fully cloud-based desktop environments capable of addressing the computing needs of a wide variety of workers, from those using everyday office productivity applications to full-blown high-performance workstation tools.

 

The Opportunity for Esri Workflows

Complex GIS (Geographic Information System) software such as ArcGIS Pro requires GPU support to deliver a smooth, reliable user experience. However, not all applications or use cases can make use of the capabilities of a complete server GPU. In the past, this has been a limiting factor to mass adoption as the only available option was to dedicate an entire server GPU in Azure to each user’s GPU (16GB). This was an inefficient and costly approach. While the most demanding visualization power users, data analysts or geophysicists may very well require an NVv4 option of a full, dedicated GPU to support their workflow, a desktop user viewing and modifying data may only require one-eighth of a GPU (2GB) to have a great experience from the Cloud.

 

One of the significant innovations found in NVv4 is fractional GPU capability. Made possible by AMD’s implementation of SR-IOV technology in its AMD Radeon Instinct GPUs, fractional GPU means that individual AMD GPUs in Azure can be shared among multiple users. With NVv4, each individual user enjoys an experience comparable to that which they would expect from a locally installed GPU, even when the GPU they access is shared among multiple users. Hardware resources are physically isolated, separating each VM from others even when a GPU is shared, which helps ensure security within the environment. Optimizations resulting from the collaborative effort of Microsoft, Esri, and AMD further underpin the powerful experience for the user.

 

Further Information

With demand for validated remote and home working solutions rising, Esri have released a number of resources documenting their support for the NVv4 instances including a detailed whitepaper, ArcGIS Pro Virtualization and a collection of resources targeted at Higher Education including architectures to support remote working and online classes and labs, as well as on campus, Virtualization of ArcGIS from the Cloud and On-Premise platforms to support Higher Education”

 

Esri have release a detail guide to the performance, functionality and benchmarking tests they performed upon NVv4 alongside resource planning advice to aid those wanting to choose between NVv4 for specific use cases on their own site, seeArcGIS Pro on the Azure NVv4-series

 

Esri testing and endorsement may rewrite the rules that dictate where and how people work. Even the most demanding application requirements can be addressed from wherever the user is located and using whatever device is available to them. One need no longer be shackled to high-performance workstations: engineers, geologists, data analysts and data visualization experts can access their Esri tools whenever and wherever work or life takes them.

 

For more resources:

  • NVv4 Microsoft GA blog: Link
  • NVv4 pricing: Link
  • com/Nvv4: Link
  • NVv4 for Education: Link
  • NVv4 for Design and Manufacturing: Link
  • NVv4 for Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC): Link
  • ESRI NVv4 blog: Link
  • ESRI in higher education: Link

 

George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

With the arrival of NVv4 instances for Microsoft Azure, decision-makers in many industries and universities are asking themselves whether cloud-based virtualized desktops can meet their stringent requirements, both in terms of high productivity and financial feasibility.

 

With the further announcement of NVv4 certification by Autodesk for its AutoCAD, Revit, and Inventor applications, the answer is now a clear yes. After undergoing rigorous testing and detailed evaluation, IT managers and users have the assurance of reliability and the support from Autodesk they need to take their trusted workstation and desktop working environments to the Cloud. This certification is critical because it provides affirmation that NVv4 has been carefully evaluated by Autodesk and is fully supported meeting the expectations of Autodesk’s 3D CAD, AEC and VFX users.

 

So what is NVv4?

NVv4 instances for Azure are virtualization solutions that use the power of 2nd generation AMD EPYC processors and Radeon Instinct GPUs from the Cloud. The close, balanced interplay between these resources is the key to making cost-effective, fully cloud-based desktop environments capable of addressing the computing needs of a wide variety of workers, from those using everyday office productivity applications to full-blown high-performance workstation tools.

 

The Opportunity for Autodesk Workflows

The AutoCAD, Revit and Inventor applications from Autodesk require GPU support to deliver a smooth, reliable user experience. However, not all applications or use cases make use of the capabilities of a complete server GPU. In the past, this has been a limiting factor as the only available option was to dedicate an entire server GPU (often 16GB per user) in Azure to each user’s VM. This was an inefficient and costly approach, limiting server density. While the most demanding design visualization power users may very well require a full, dedicated GPU to support their workflow, a desktop user preparing technical publications may only require one-eighth of a GPU to have a great experience from the Cloud. 

 

One of the significant innovations found in NVv4 is fractional GPU capability. Made possible by AMD’s implementation of SR-IOV technology in its Radeon Instinct GPUs, fractional GPU means that individual AMD GPUs in Azure NVv4 instances can be shared among multiple users. With NVv4, each individual user can enjoy an experience comparable to that which they would expect from a locally installed professional grade GPU including professional drivers, even when the GPU they access is shared among multiple users. Hardware resources are physically isolated, separating each VM from others even when a GPU is shared, which helps ensure security within the environment. Optimizations resulting from the collaborative effort of Microsoft, Autodesk, and AMD further underpin the powerful experience for the user.

 

Autodesk certification means the offer of full vendor support, regardless of the users location and the device being used. One need no longer be shackled to high-performance workstations: architects, designers, engineers and visual effects (VFX) experts can access their Autodesk tools whenever and wherever work or life takes them.

 

The certifications for 2019 and 2020 versions of AutoCAD, Revit and Inventor can be found here and are listed as "Radeon Instinct MI25 MxGPU". 2021 certifications are coming soon.

 

For more resources:

  • NVv4 Microsoft GA blog: Link
  • NVv4 pricing: Link
  • AMD.com/Nvv4: Link
  • NVv4 for Education: Link
  • NVv4 for Design and Manufacturing: Link
  • NVv4 for Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC): Link

 

George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

The Oil and Gas sector places tremendous demand upon IT infrastructure. Extraction, mining, and drilling projects may cost billions, span multiple years, and are often geographically distributed. With the arrival of Microsoft Azure’s latest GPU-enabled NVv4 instances, oil and gas companies now have a new virtual desktop option that offers significant potential benefits to their workflows, productivity, and IT costs when considering how to address the breadth of their IT requirements.

At the high-end, these companies rely on some of the most demanding workloads in existence, processing massive datasets with 2D and 3D simulation and modelling software in order to plan and manage vast engineering sites, rigs, and construction projects. Combining AMD Radeon InstinctTM MI25 GPUs with up to 16GB of dedicated memory and 64-core AMD EPYCTM 7742 CPUs, NVv4 instances in Azure delivers virtual machines capable of reviewing, processing and analyzing large datasets while delivering workstation-class experiences from the Cloud.

NVv4 is a compelling new virtual desktop and workstation solution that enables geologists and engineers to prototype, scale, and adapt rapidly without the usual risks of long-term commitment or project changes that may render hardware and infrastructure decisions invalid. 

Oil and gas companies also rely on huge numbers of people using office applications, collaboration and communication software (such as Microsoft Teams, Jabber, Hangouts), PLM, SAP, and CRM systems. These applications require a small, but critical, amount of GPU processing to deliver a modern user experience. NVv4 fractional GPU capability makes it possible to support these use cases using virtual desktops, partitioning the GPU resources to satisfy performance, mobility, security, and budget requirements while addressing IT management and security requirements.

Let’s explore in detail some of the features and benefits NVv4 offers:

 

Secure Remote Access
Migrating workstation-class workloads and user access to the Cloud ensures data is centralized, managed, and secured. Application and graphical and compute processing all take place in the data center. Users receive only a stream of display pixels, protecting against scenarios such as losing a laptop loaded with sensitive data, data loss caused by the failure of local workstations, or viruses. Azure portal-based access removes the need for VPNs and other insecure security measures that can be compromised on an unmanaged endpoint.

Now, key user groups like geologists, engineers, project managers can access files at the office, on-site, or while at home or traveling. Geographically dispersed teams can collaborate on files confident that data is protected and that they’re all working on a single master file. Significantly, the NVv4 portfolio offers a range of performance options that can deliver rich, modern desktop computing experiences to nearly any internet-connected device including tablets, mobile phones and PCs. Now  key user groups can access and work with data while in the harshest physical environments or most sensitive political regions, all while the data remains secure in the data center.

The NVv4 instance is fully supported by Windows® Virtual Desktop, Citrix® Cloud and Teradici® Cloud access.  This broad support gives IT managers the ability to choose their preferred remote protocols, management, and admin tools. This flexibility helps to mitigate the challenges of moving from a private data center to Microsoft Azure by enabling IT managers to work with familiar, preferred solutions and tools.

 

Shift from CAPEX to OPEX to Manage Costs
With new oil and gas projects already costing tens of billions of dollars, it is important that their associated IT operations deliver infrastructure requirements while being efficient and flexible. By shifting to a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) deployment, a third-party provider like Microsoft Azure provides the IT infrastructure, tests and helps provision and deploy resources for the customer while managing all the necessary hardware in the cloud as-a-service. This makes it possible for IT operations to switch from a rigid CAPEX spending model, requiring the purchase of server hardware, to a more flexible OPEX model, renting cloud-based services on a monthly basis and adjusting as dictated by needs.

 

Scalability and Rapid Project Initiation

Faced with managing multiple, simultaneous projects distributed around the world, IT departments need effective and reliable tools to scale and deploy infrastructure across different settings. Azure facilitates remote troubleshooting, application updates, and delivery of security patches throughout a project’s lifecycle. Rapid scaling and management of IT resources accelerates production schedules, ensures productivity is enhanced from day one, and makes it possible to eliminate ongoing costs when projects are complete.  

 

Azure Guaranteed High-Availability to Reduce Costly Downtime
The scale of investment in oil and gas projects means that downtime and delay can quickly accumulate into millions lost. A virtual IT infrastructure provides redundancy, stability, and flexibility that protects against the unforeseen, from minor disruptions to significant man-made or natural occurrences. Vital data resources and applications can remain on-line and accessible to staff who can continue to work remotely and securely. Azure’s guaranteed Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for VMs (Virtual Machines) typically guarantee in excess of 99.9% availability offering organizations assurance of high availability. More information on SLA: click here 

 

Secure Flexibility through SR-IOV
Microsoft Azure fractional GPU capability (GPU-P) is built on Single-root input/output virtualization (SR-IOV) standards, unique to AMD powered NVv4 instances, enhances security capabilities when the GPU resources are shared among multiple users in a public environment. This cloud-native, SR-IOV-based virtualization provides improved security compared to software-based GPU virtualization standards as it enables isolation of PCIe® hardware resources, helping prevent unauthorized access to the data of one VM by users of other VMs sharing the GPU. 

 

License Management
The high cost of specialized software can be a barrier to increasing the number of Geologists/Geophysicists assigned to a project. Leveraging DaaS allows for concurrently licensed software to be brokered and rationalized, e.g., in scenarios where some analysts only require access occasionally. IT managers can maintain greater overall awareness of a distributed environment that may include offices and staff around the world. With greater visibility, IT administrators can better optimize usage of costly software licenses, manage costs, and widen access to precious licenses.

 

NVv4 GPU options - optimized resourcing
Analysts, geologists and engineers rely on a range of 3D and graphical applications to perform complex analysis, including Schlumberger Petrel E&P and INTERSECT; Halliburton DecisionSpace and Nexus; CGG GeoSoftware; Ansys Fluent; Autodesk AutoCAD; Dassault SOLIDWORKS and CATIA; Siemens NX and Teamcenter; ESRI ArcGIS; and Spatial Energy Petra. The requirements of individuals users can vary considerably. Some only view specific datasets, lighter weight or 2D CAD models, while others may undertake GPU-intensive CFD simulations. The range of GPU sizes offered in the NVv4 series provides an opportunity for cost savings by enabling IT managers to adjust VMs to fit the needs of different workloads, upsizing or downsizing resources to adjust to users’ real production workloads.  

 

Industry Certification and Professional Graphics Drivers Included
The AMD EPYC™ 7002 Series processors have robust compatibility with virtually all software available in the market today. AMD works with the open source community and major software vendors to help ensure key industry applications and enabling software will work exceptionally well with the AMD EPYC™ processors.. All AMD supported Azure instances include professional GPU drivers with no licensing cost. ISV certifications and optimizations for professional industry visualization applications including ERSI help to assure a reliable, productive user experience.

 

Matching NVv4 to Requirements:

KEY OIL & GAS USER GROUPS

GEOLOGISTS, GEOPHYSICISTS, RESERVOIR ENGINEERS

DRILLING ENGINEERS, CAD/CAE USERS

SUPPORTING STAFF E.G. ACCOUNTING, MARKETING, HUMAN RESOURCES,

USE CASES

For remotely viewing and editing massive datasets and complex 2D/3D images

For remotely viewing and editing 2D and 3D mechanical images

For general purpose Windows 10 virtual desktops and office productivity applications

RECOMMEND

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Standard_NV8as_v4

Standard_NV16as_v4

Standard_NV4as_v4 or

 

Other resources to consider: 

 

George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied. Use of third party marks / logos/ products is for informational purposes only and no endorsement of or by AMD is intended or implied.

Welcome developers to the first in a series of blogs about AMD ROCm. Im Terry Deem, Product Manager for ROCm. In these blogs, I will let you know about upcoming new releases, features, training, and case studies surrounding ROCm. The ROCm SDK is a set of tools, libraries, and API for developing HPC applications using GPUs for computing. You can learn more about ROCm with this introduction video located here 

 

After watching the introduction video, you might want to know more about HIP. HIP is the API used to develop your application to run on either an AMD or NVIDIA GPU. This powerful API makes it easy to, with minimal effort, let the same source code compile for both AMD and NVIDIA GPU’s. If your application is already in CUDA and you want to expand it to work on AMD GPU’s, use the HIPIFY tool. This tool will automatically convert the source from CUDA to HIP.   

 

In this blog, I am happy to announce our first set of on demand videos on the ROCm technology. You can find them here below. In these videos you will learn about AMD GPUs and how to develop applications that can utilize their compute power to accelerate your applications. You will learn how the GPU works, how threading works on them and how to write your programs using the HIP API in the ROCm SDK.  

 

ROCm Video Series 

1) Introduction to AMD GPU Hardware: Link 

2) GPU Programming Concepts Part 1 - Porting with HIP: Link 

3) GPU Programming Concepts Part 2 - Device Management, Synchronization and MPI Programming: Link 

4) GPU Programming Concepts Part 3 - Device Code, Shared Memory and Thread Synchronization: Link 

5) GPU Programming Software - Compilers, Libraries and Tools: Link 

6) Porting CUDA to HIP: Link 

 

ROCm and HIP are foundational to the applications that will run on the two Exascale systems that was recently announced, Frontier and El Capitan. You can learn more about ROCm on our documentation site located here. We are excited to see what you can do with HIP and look forward to hearing from you.  

 

Resources:  

 

Terry Deem is a Sr. Product Manager for ROCm at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied. 

With all the excitement around the general availability of Microsoft’s Azure NVv4 instances, I wanted to reshare this MxGPU white paper that AMD’s Tonny Wong created when we first launched the SR-IOV based GPU virtualization architecture. This is a great paper for anyone wanting to understand and learn more about the underlining technology within our GPU architecture.  (Note: we have made a few updates to the paper below to keep it current.)

 

White Paper - AMD MULTIUSER GPU

Originally created by Tonny Wong, Radeon Technologies Group

 

 

SR-IOV-BASED GPU VIRTUALIZATION FOR A TRUE WORKSTATION EXPERIENCE

 

 

Overview

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has evolved over the last few years, enabling richer user experiences and improved manageability and deployment ease. Many traditional VDI enterprise customers have gained productivity and lowered Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for their desktop users. The growth of VDI needs to address the needs of “greenfield” users, those organizations that want the benefits of secure hosted desktops but with a deployment model that is more consistent with their traditional desk-side workstations. These deployments need to abide to existing datacenter standards for hypervisors while leveraging capabilities that match traditional workstations.

 

The Trend Toward VDI

Remote graphics protocols have greatly improved user experiences, delivering the feel of a local workstation computing resource for LAN users and optimizing multimedia and graphics capabilities for WAN users. These remote protocols can deliver GPU-rendered content from the datacenter allowing Virtual Machines with standard desktop OS’s to be the main deployment method for users of all types. From demanding workstation applications with high 3D GPU needs all the way to standard enterprise desktop users who want GPU-enriched desktop experiences, this range of users can take advantage of a vast array of VDI solutions now in the market.

 

VDI is a great way to help improve desktop security by hosting out of an enterprise private cloud (on-premise datacenter) or via offerings from cloud service providers either fully public or via hybrid public/private clouds.  However, the capabilities should match what users expect from their local workstation systems and not be limited to a subset of features. Enterprise VDI deployments should have access to GPU resources in the datacenter or service provider that deliver 3D capabilities across many users while still making all graphics API and compute API standards are available, just like on local workstation systems.

 

What AMD GPUs bring to the Virtual Desktop GPU technology for VDI allows users migrating from physical workstation desktop systems or notebooks to capture the same or better graphics capabilities as their desktop workstation, with good productivity while enabling more user types to migrate to VDI. In supporting this migration to VDI, GPU vendors need to ensure that, when enabling a GPU for virtualization across many users, this GPU must deliver deterministic performance, helping to better gauge user types and numbers of GPU resources needed.

 

AMD has spent the last few years implementing features in our GPU hardware to prepare for virtualized platforms.  Implementation in our silicon allows our new AMD Multiuser GPU technology to share the GPU resource across multiple users or virtual machines while giving the expanded capabilities users expect from local workstations utilizing discrete GPUs. The AMD Multiuser GPU products can provide enterprise customers with a choice for their GPU and 3D processing needs that can help make GPU use more pervasive on VDI deployments.

 

VDI with GPUs: Lifting Performance and User Experience

With Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), one can gain the benefits of security, manageability, and remote access to deploy and support enterprise desktop users and may additionally experience lower total cost of ownership (TCO). For the knowledge worker and task worker user types, VDI deployments help apply better control of user environments while enabling increased performance by virtue of virtual machines being closer to datacenter, hosted datasets or applications.

 

Users who required higher computing power specifically around GPU technology for 3D and GPU compute applications were either left on physical desktop systems or deployed with comparatively expensive pass through GPU technology, losing the benefit of distributing the graphics card cost among multiple users.  Early virtualized GPU technologies addressed some of these areas by adapting a standard GPU architecture to virtualization via software in the hypervisor, but this isn’t the ideal solution to mimic true discrete GPU-like performance. Features like GPU compute functionality are not available, limiting some applications to fallback to CPU usage when a desktop workstation would have leveraged a GPU.  Initial pricing for these virtualized GPU solutions was compelling compared to multiple pass-thru GPU devices but they can still have much greater costs than multiple desktop discrete GPUs. Standard VDI technologies utilize software-emulated GPUs, specifically in VMware vSphere with Horizon View, where the base level graphics capabilities are limited.  This works fine for knowledge workers where enabling software 3D emulation with Virtual Shared Graphics Acceleration (vSGA) allows basic applications to run, albeit with higher CPU utilization. vSGA performance is further enhanced by leveraging a hardware GPU with appropriate vSGA drivers from graphics vendors. Even with hardware vSGA support, however, it does not necessarily meet the requirements for more intensive 3D Graphics and Compute user needs. Certifications (CAD/CAE as an example) for applications are not available due to limited support level in graphics APIs like OpenGL® or DirectX®.

 

Virtualized GPUs allow workstation and power user categories to migrate to VDI with acceptable GPU performance. Workstation users from CAD/CAE, M&E and specialized segments can leverage workstation-class drivers on applicable platforms to support applications with certification requirements.  Power users who rely on DTP/Desktop Publishing, or internal enterprise applications who need GPU support can migrate to VDI environments.

 

AMD Multiuser GPU – Technology Foundation

Rather than repurposing an existing GPU and adding a software layer to accommodate virtualization requirements, AMD’s Multiuser GPU approach is to create an entirely new class of GPU architecture with virtualization capabilities built into the silicon. AMD challenged the notion that the support of GPU virtualization required a proprietary software solution. Compliant with the well-established PCIE® virtualization standard SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization) specification, AMD has implemented a hardware-based GPU architecture. The culmination of these efforts resulted in the creation of the industry’s first hardware virtualized GPU. 

 

The SR-IOV specification defines a virtualized PCIE device to expose one or more physical functions

(PF) plus a number of virtual functions (VFs) on the PCIE bus. The specification also defines a standard method to enable the virtual functions by the system software such as the hypervisor or its delegate. These VFs may inherit the same graphics capabilities of the physical GPU, allowing each to become fully capable of supporting the GPU’s graphics functionality. Through the PF, system software controls enablement and access permissions of the VFs, internally mapping resources such as the graphics cores and GPU local memory.

 

The task of GPU virtualization management can therefore leverage the existing standard PCIE device management logic in the hypervisor, unburdening the hypervisor from proprietary and complex software implementations. To further simplify the deployment, an optional driver can be loaded to help the hypervisor to enable/disable virtual functions and to manage the Multiuser GPU’s resources.

 

The PF manages sharing of graphical resources by scheduling the GPU cores across VFs and allocating graphics memory to each of these VFs. The PF also assigns internal register spaces to each VF ensuring an orderly and structured method for the VFs to access hardware resources and data, at the same time helping keep that data secure. Because each GPU VF is designed to inherit the attributes of the physical GPU, it supports full GPU capabilities allowing the support of graphics and compute features.

 

When these VFs are passed through to their assigned virtual machines, they will appear as full-featured graphical devices to the virtual machine’s guest OS. Since the guest OS sees the VFs as a native graphics device, AMD’s native Radeon™ Pro™ graphics driver that are designed for professional graphics devices can be loaded within the virtual machine to unlock the GPU’s graphics and compute capabilities.

 

A number of Radeon Pro graphics products already support passthrough mode, allowing remote users the ability to access a GPU installed on a host server from a client device. AMD Multiuser GPUs evolved this architecture to support from 1 to 16 VFs, allowing each to appear as a passthrough device with added security and quality of service. Mapping one VF to a virtual machine allows the creation of up to 16 independent guest OSs that are accelerated by a single GPU. User density is limited only by the availability of PCIE slots.

 

 

Key Benefits

 

Predictable Performance

A key benefit of hardware-based virtualization is that hardware-controlled scheduling cycles deliver predictable quality of service (QoS). The fixed scheduling cycles apportioned to each VF ensure that each VF receives its fair share of GPU services.

  

Predictable performance or deterministic QoS results in smooth transitions from proof-of-concept pilots to organization-wide deployments. Pilot managers determine the capabilities of the GPU during the proof-of-concept phase and scale up or scale down user density (number of users per GPU) as required. 

Being able to determine the GPU needs of the user base ties back to an organization’s ability to forecast and plan its resources. Under-forecasting results in failing to meet users’ performance expectations; over-forecasting results in under-utilizing a configuration. The predictable nature of AMD’s Multiuser GPU solution helps avoid these unwanted outcomes.

 

 

Secure Implementation

The push towards virtualization is in part driven by the needs of centralizing and securing data and resources. The cornerstone of AMD’s Multiuser GPU technology is its ability to preserve the data integrity of virtualized desktops and their application data. The hardware-enforced memory isolation logic provides strong data security among the VFs, which helps prevent one VM from being able to access another VM’s data.

  

With security being a bare minimum requirement for any virtualization solution, AMD’s hardware-based virtualized GPU solution offers a strong deterrent to unauthorized users who traverse the software or application layers seeking means to extract or corrupt GPU user data from the virtual machines. Although a VF can access full GPU capabilities at its own GPU partition, it does not have access to the dedicated local memory of its sibling VFs.

 

 

Uncompromising Support for APIs and Features

The AMD Multiuser GPU technology exposes all graphics functionality of the GPU to the VF at its partition allowing for not only full support for graphics APIs like DirectX and OpenGL but also GPU compute APIs like OpenCL™.  Code written in these standards for the physical device need not be adapted or altered to function in the virtual environment. AMD is the first GPU vendor to support hardware-based native GPU compute features within the virtual environment. Since VFs are allowed access to all of the GPU’s rendering resources during their respective time slices, the need to perform post-processing operations to partition data or tasks is not necessary.

  

AMD operates on the principle of creating customer-centric designs, offering useful features and allowing customers to build usages around these features. Limits are added to control quality, not to constrain utility. Radeon Pro professional graphics, AMD’s workstation brand of graphics products, can drive up to six displays per GPU as a standard offering on select AMD Radeon Pro W-series products. Because the Multiuser GPU resides among the FirePro brand of products, the ability to drive up to six displays is an inherent feature. Multiuser GPU products extend this feature by allowing each VF to drive up to six displays within the virtual machine (note that this may be dependent on the remoting protocol and client being used).

 

 

Conclusion

The desire to share storage and network resources sparked innovation of technologies for these devices. The need to centralize all these resources and to secure them in a remote datacenter continues to drive the migration to virtualization. GPU virtualization is a relatively late participant in this migration with early proprietary software-based solutions offering limited GPU capabilities. To become ubiquitous, GPU virtualization technology has to be transparent and standardized, giving users near-desktop experiences without alerting to the fact that they are in a virtualized environment.

 

AMD Multiuser GPUs push GPU virtualization closer to complete transparency and ubiquity by innovating with a hardware-based solution with conformance to the virtualization industry standard, making it easy 

to be adopted and integrated into the existing hypervisor ecosystems.

The financial services industry is no stranger to virtualization, having already come to appreciate the advantages it offers for satisfying important IT requirements such as centralized data security, enhanced mobility, and improved disaster recovery capability. The advent of Microsoft’s new NVv4 instance for Microsoft Azure with fractional GPU capability now has the potential to make it feasible to expand the use cases, practicality, and opportunities to use virtual machines (VMs) to support finance operations.

 

The Virtualization Challenge

One of the barriers to broad adoption of virtualization across many more essential financial applications has been the fact that most widely used software solutions such as trading consoles and visual analytics workstations require GPU support to ensure responsive interactivity under real-time demands. Prior to NVv4, this was only possible by providing each user’s computer or workstation with access to a full, dedicated GPU in the data center. This was highly inefficient, as many applications really only require a small, but nonetheless critical, amount of GPU processing to deliver a great user experience. Thus, the approach was expensive on a per-user basis and did not sufficiently improve the maintenance burden on IT departments. The need to offer the highest level of security for these environments has further complicated the switch to virtualized topologies.

 

NVv4 Changes the Virtualization Equation

Azure NVv4 instances powered by AMD 2nd Gen EPYCTM Processors and AMD Radeon InstinctTM GPUs tackles these challenges. Financial services organizations can deploy cost-effective, fully cloud-based desktop environments that meet the performance, flexibility, security, and cost requirements of their critical applications. NVv4 also addresses the management requirements and security standards demanded by IT management and corporate governance. Specific benefits include:

 

  • AMD’s SR-IOV technologies enable IT managers to deliver the right amount of GPU service to individual desktops and workstations based on application needs while sharing a high-powered GPU among multiple users.
  • Four AMD powered NVv4 options make it possible to provide configurations that align with the particular computing workloads of different users.
  • VMs such as Azure control data because data never leaves the datacenter; only pixel information is sent to the device.
  • With AMD’ SR-IOV-based GPU virtualization architecture, each virtual desktop is physically isolated, even when a single GPU is shared by multiple users.
  • Based in the Cloud, Azure can reduce reliance and expenditure on physical IT infrastructure such as on-premises data centers.
  • NVv4 offers instances that can support 4K displays, 60hz screen refresh rates, and multi-monitor support for up to 4 monitors. 

 

Let’s consider just a few of the use cases that are now possible to the financial services sector.

 

Branch offices

Azure is centralized in the Cloud, so it enables IT departments of large financial organizations to remotely deliver and update applications and roll-out security patches. This can also help IT retain greater situational awareness of their entire distributed environment, which may include hundreds or thousands of branch offices, affording improved control and compliance oversight. With greater visibility, IT administrators can better optimize usage of costly software licenses and better manage costs. 

 

Azure supports end-users with an ultra-low-latency global data backbone that delivers a highly productive experience. The combination of AMD enterprise-grade CPU and GPU hardware with the NVv4 Windows® 10 virtual instance helps ensure optimal compression for remote protocols that can overcome local limitations in networking and bandwidth, relieving IT of the need to install and modify leased offices. As tablets and other portable devices become common in local banks, a virtualized approach makes it possible for such devices to access powerful tools, enabling staff to assist customers from convenient, comfortable locations rather than behind a bulky workstation at a fixed desk.  

 

Trading environments

The Windows 10 environment and key business applications such as Bloomberg, Capital IQ, FactSet, and Thomson Reuters Eikon, all require GPU support to deliver the responsive, low-latency interactive experience users such as traders demand. Powered by the combination of AMD 2nd Gen EPYC processors and AMD Radeon Instinct GPUs, NVv4 instances address that challenge while providing IT managers with flexibility to choose the right-sized configuration for different types of users.  Unlike on-premises data centers, where IT managers must purchase hardware and licenses, then install and service servers, NVv4 enables IT managers to simply and quickly provision resources from the Cloud when adding new users to the workforce.  

 

Data Security and Regulatory Compliance

Secure remote access provides financial services companies the knowledge that data is locally replicated and can be backed up centrally in the data center avoiding unmanaged end-points.

 

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery 

In today’s electronic trading environments, downtime can lead to missed opportunities and significant financial loss. If an office, municipality or large region is impacted by a natural or man-made disruption, a virtualized infrastructure can provide critical redundancy.  It can help ensure that vital data sources, compute/simulation resources, real-time analytics tools, and trading desktops remain online and accessible, enabling staff to work remotely and securely. Azure guaranteed Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for VMs typically guarantee in excess of 99.9 percent availability. 

 

Channel Partner Access

Financial products are often sold via brokers or agents, particularly in the consumer insurance and mortgage sectors. Virtualization can allow financial institutions to provide sales channel partners with secure, limited, ring-fenced access to applications or data as needed. This is critical to maintaining compliance with FSA and GDPR legislation. Azure has a proven track record of supporting the compliance needs of enterprise, global financial services, and banking organizations.

 

The Financial services industry faces some of the most challenging IT configuration and management issues. The flexibility of NVv4 is well worth a look by those looking to effectively streamline some of that complexity and better control costs, without sacrificing performance.

 

Other resources to consider:

 

George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Microsoft’s announcement of its new NVv4 virtual desktop instances got me thinking about the many industries that may benefit from expanding virtualization. With fractional GPU functionality built on AMD Radeon GPUs, NVv4 suddenly makes it feasible to apply Desktop as a Service (DaaS) to use cases previously burdened with compromises. So, over my next few blogs, I’ll explore some of those industries, beginning with a favorite of mine, Education.

IT Managers in education work magic, forever balancing technical progress, rising user expectations, and, above all, cost. Microsoft Azure NVv4 is exciting because it addresses the breadth of those challenges. By making it possible to share GPU resources in a third-party, cloud-based managed data center, NVv4 enables education IT to:

  • reduce the need to invest in, manage, and upgrade expensive private data centers
  • define and scale virtual data centers to deal with the evolving demands
  • optimize usage of computing resources
  • deliver a custom-fit, great user experience to the differing needs of students and faculty
  • increase security and accessibility on- and off-campus

DaaS--The Right-Sized Approach to Education IT Needs

DaaS shares the appealing capabilities of on-premises VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), but with the massive added benefit that a third-party provider like Azure now designs, procures, deploys, and manages all the necessary hardware and VDI software. Education facilities instead rent cloud-based services on a monthly basis. 

IT operations can switch from a rigid CAPEX spending model to a flexible OPEX model, paying for only what they use. This may be the answer to the reduced demand of summer holidays, term breaks, and variations in teaching and learning hours. 

Device Flexibility

Virtual desktops are accessible from students’ own devices, regardless of technical specifications. This is possible because all performance and data are in the Cloud. Only the final info needed for display is sent to the user. This can extend the life of devices and make it possible to support affordable low-power PCs, Chromebooks, or tablets without the concern of performance or application compatibility issues. In fact, students can generally choose between Macs, PCs, or Chromebooks for courses without compatibility concerns. IT administrators can be freed from maintaining physical PCs and workstations while centralization also simplifies the management of software licenses. 

 

Fractional GPU with AMD Changes the Equation for Education

Until NVv4 it was only possible to choose between expensive full-GPU, high-specification VMs or non-GPU VMs. Configurations without any GPU don’t meet the demands of even a basic modern web browser. While a full GPU made sense for high-end workstation applications, that level of service was costly overkill for users of basic productivity software and collaboration who require only a small portion of a GPU to enjoy a great experience. 

GPU partitioning in  Azure NVv4 instances allows IT administrators to fit the needs of application and course requirements. For example, initial undergraduate courses using SolidWorks are unlikely to have the same demanding requirements as professionals in CAD/CAM industries. An NVv4 option with 4GB of GPU is usually sufficient to provide a high-quality experience at a lower cost for many engineering applications as well as Windows 10 and video streaming. Larger GPU options are also available to support heavyweight users and researchers doing more intensive CAD work or sophisticated CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulations.  

 

The Tools for Great User Experiences

Remote display application and protocols are key to good user experiences with VDI/DaaS in the Cloud and the NVv4 does not disappoint with Windows Remote Desktop (RDP) 10, Teradici PCoIP, and Citrix HDX 3D Pro for remoting flexibility, regardless of the intended use case. The AMD Radeon GPUs also support native graphics APIs like DirectX 9 through to 12, OpenGL 4.6, and Vulkan 1.1 ensuring a true graphics experience in the Cloud. AMD Radeon Pro professional graphics drivers are included license-free with all AMD GPU enabled Azure instances, with no restrictions on the number of users for multi-user Windows Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop Session Host, providing IT departments with administrative freedom. 

Addressing the Modern Education Environment

Data Security
Virtual desktop environments are essentially sandboxed and centralized, with Azure running the Hyper-V hypervisor. IT administrators no longer need to worry about the security patching of BYOD laptops and can be assured that educational resources are not abused for gaming, bitcoin mining, or accessing inappropriate material. Azure’s regions and data controls are already proven and trusted for handling sensitive research projects and data in collaboration with military, government, and industrial collaborators.

Increased Access with Virtualized Classrooms, Labs, and Distance Learning

Students can work anywhere--in libraries, residence halls, off-site, or around the globe. NVv4 helps schools overcome weather, distance, time, and increase their capacity to remove barriers to access through online programs. Curricula can be rapidly refreshed, centrally deployed, and managed to enable universities and high schools to provide online courses, and to deploy new course materials and resources instantly. Azure’s high-availability guarantees and regional data centers to provide low latency access globally.  Courses in other time zones may also rely on Microsoft supported infrastructure avoiding not only the need for hardware but also out of hours IT support. 

Support demanding graphical, collaborative and processing-intensive curricula

The new NVv4 instances are powered by the 64-core AMD EPYC 7742 CPU and the AMD Radeon Instinct MI25 GPU, with GPU sizes between 2GB-8GB available and full AMD Radeon Pro professional graphics drivers. By removing the need for students to be tied to high-performance workstations, even design, engineering, animation, and visual effects courses can be supported virtually and use professional 3D software applications including Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks and Catia; Autodesk, PTC, Siemens NX, and Adobe Creative Cloud.  NVv4 similarly delivers a great foundation for modern collaboration applications with rich media. 

 

I believe that NVv4 has the potential to dramatically reshape the IT landscape for education. It creates remarkable new opportunities for IT managers to better balance what have been competing demands for up-to-date technology, security, cost management, and great user experiences for faculty and students.  

Find out more

If you’d like to find out more, please visit Amd.com [hyperlink] 

Additional links 

 

George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

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Are you interested in deploying in the cloud? Do you want to learn more about AMD-powered desktop and workstations in the cloud? Well join us Wednesday, April 1st for a live webinar as we launch the all new AMD-powered desktops and workstations on Azure with Workspot’s turnkey enterprise-ready cloud desktop platformWe’ll also discuss how IT organizations can quickly deploy this turnkey VDI solution to their users to work remotely whether at home, in the office or onsite.

 

 

Watch the webinar recording now

 

What: Live webinar broadcast AMD-Powered Workspot workstations on Azure
Who: Hear from the following cloud experts:

  • Adam Glick, DaaS Cloud Tech Marketing at AMD
  • Kevin Raines, HPC Specialist at Microsoft
  • Brad Peterson, VP at Workspot
  • Andy Knauf, CIO at Mead & Hunt
  • Doug Dahlberg, Dir of IT at ASTI

 

A few of the topics examined: 

  • Why move to Azure (the Cloud)?
  • Why choose Workspot cloud desktops and the new AMD-powered offering
  • How do I quickly deploy Workspot cloud desktops & workstations on Azure to address remote working

 

other resources:

AMD.com landing page - Click here

AMD blog - Click here

MSFT blog - Click here

 

 

 

The information contained in blog represents the view of AMD or the third-party presenter as of the date presented. AMD and/or the third-party presenters have no obligation to update any forward-looking content in the above presentations. AMD is not responsible for the content of any third-party presentations and does not necessarily endorse the comments made therein.

 

George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Virtualized environments can pose some challenges for companies. In order to bring a more consistent and user friendly experience to virtual environments, AMD and Microsoft have been working together to offer a whole new cloud experience for desktop and workstation users.

 

Microsoft Azure NVv4 instances are the first desktop as a service (DaaS) Virtual Machines (VMs) powered by the combination of 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors and AMD Radeon Instinct GPUs. The NVv4, as of today, is now generally available to the public.

 

NVv4 represents a convergence of innovative technologies to make modern desktop experiences possible from the cloud. Enterprises can deploy affordable, cloud-native GPU-accelerated desktop environments that meet the performance and flexibility demands needed for high productivity of their employees. Just as important, NVv4 also offers state-of-the-art IT management tools to help drive success of IT organizations.

 

How is this possible? NVv4 instances are built on three fundamental pillars to enable cloud-native modern desktop and workstation experiences.

 

GPU-Accelerated Performance

Today’s digital workforce relies on modern applications. Modern applications are built with GPU acceleration at their core. From the most powerful 3D design tools, to common office productivity tools, and even web browsing, everyday applications are designed to require or benefit from graphics acceleration support built in. In other words, virtual machines without GPU acceleration will often struggle with some of the most common desktop tasks.

 

As the first VMs on Azure to take advantage of AMD’s SR-IOV technology to enable GPU partitioning, NVv4 provides IT decision-makers with four VM options calibrated to meet the variety of use cases in the modern workplace. Whether they are a professional running a workstation-class design application or support staff using Microsoft Office 365, all users receive the performance and reliability of 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors and Radeon Instinct GPUs. ISV certifications and optimizations for professional 3D applications further reinforce the user experience.

 

Support for the latest Windows 10, Windows Server and Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session operating systems provides IT with the flexibility to specify single- or multi-session configurations as needs dictate. Even when the GPU is partitioned, the individual user’s experience is indistinguishable from the experience of a locally installed GPU to which they are accustomed.

 

IT managers can continue to rely on the traditional remote protocols, management, and administration tools they prefer. NVv4 instances are fully supported by Windows Virtual Desktop, Citrix Cloud, Teradici Cloud Access and Workspot Cloud VDI so the migration to Azure is both smooth and familiar.

 

“The flexibility that Azure NVv4 with AMD-powered GPU partitioning provides for users to share and access GPU resources as needed is a valuable feature that we see will benefit many Teradici customers. We are excited to be working with Microsoft and AMD to enable more flexible, cost-effective GPU options for virtual desktop and virtual workstation use cases such as AEC.”

– Ziad Lammam, Vice President of Product Management at Teradici

 

Uncompromised Security

Security is at the core of nearly every IT conversation. In an infrastructure where resources are shared across users and services, companies need to be confident that individual users data is fully protected. While Azure is built on world-class security technologies, traditional GPUs

 

Security runs deep into the hardware of AMD-powered Azure environments. While traditional GPUs rely on software techniques for security in virtualized environments, NVv4 is powered by SR-IOV-based GPU virtualization, enabling isolation of PCIe hardware resources to prevent unauthorized access to the data of one VM by users of other VMs. Each VM can only access the physical resource that has been allocated to it. Each VM is physically isolated from others, even when a single GPU is shared by multiple users. SR-IOV is recognised and established in the industry as one of the key standards for resource isolation – that’s why Microsoft is including  this technology as part of its comprehensive plan to keep its customers safe and protected when virtualised.

 

"The diversity of the new AMD-based Workspot cloud desktops on Microsoft Azure is a huge deal for us. Based on the application requirements of each engineer, we can dedicate all or a fraction of the AMD GPU to their Workspot workstation on Azure. This finer resolution of control gives us the financial edge we need to move more people to Workspot cloud desktops on Azure and increase our overall productivity."

– Eric Quinn, CTO at C & S Companies

 

Cloud-like Affordability

One of the biggest promises of cloud is that businesses can reduce their cost by renting exactly what they need. Yet for businesses looking to deploy GPU-accelerated VMs, this was not possible. Prior to NVv4, users could only choose between more expensive full-GPU VMs or non-GPU VMs. Even if the user didn’t need the entire performance headroom of a full GPU, they would be required to rent it. While the cost of a full GPU could be justified for the highest-end workstation workloads, most desktop experiences need a fraction of the GPU for optimal experience.

 

One of the key benefits of AMD-powered GPU partitioning in Azure is the ability to deliver fractions of a GPU at more affordable price points. Four AMD-powered NVv4 options are available to IT managers, making it possible to provide virtual desktop configurations that perfectly meet the particular computing workloads of different users. NVv4 instances can deliver GPU-powered desktop experiences that enable the GPU to be configured to be used by eight, four, two, or a single user as dictated by their application needs.

 

“As more organizations start migrating Citrix workloads to Microsoft Azure, they want to ensure that they’re delivering that same level of experience as their previous on-prem deployments. We’re excited to be partnering with AMD and Microsoft with the release NVv4 instance, as this ensures organizations can deliver graphically accelerated Citrix Workspaces with superior user experiences while also optimizing their costs.”

– Nitin Sharma, Sr Product Marketing Manager for Workspace Services at Citrix

 

Promises Fulfilled

AMD CPU and GPU powered NVv4 instances are the first GPU-accelerated virtual desktops for Azure and provides businesses with productivity, the absolute requirement for security, and the ever-present pressure to manage costs, all while providing users with an adaptable, flexible, high-performance cloud-based work environment that addresses the breadth of expectations of the modern workplace.

 

Businesses interested in assessing and testing DaaS environments for their operations can work with Microsoft partners like Cloud Jumper and Workspot to ensure professional and experienced teams who can help assess your business needs every step of the way from POC to deployment and migration.

 

Find out more:

 

George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

A few months ago at Microsoft Ignite in the AMD booth, I had the opportunity to showcase the first GPU partitioned and shared instances (NVv4) available for Microsoft’s Azure cloud featuring the AMD Radeon Instinct MI25 accelerator, along with AMD’s other EUC (End User Computing) and data center products. News about the Microsoft and IGEL partnership relating to WVD (Windows Virtual Desktop) also attracted interest from our Cloud, Citrix and related customers. Although WVD has been available in preview, no Linux-based WVD client had been available which resulted in increased interest in the IGEL offering. And at the recent Disrupt 2020 event, IGEL announced the first Linux client to support WVD. The Microsoft SDK that makes this integration possible has the potential to enable other thin-client vendors to offer their own solution.

 

While the use of AMD CPUs and server GPUs is well-known, AMD is also a major player in providing the CPU and graphics/GPU hardware within many of the most popular thin clients.

 

The joint IGEL and Microsoft announcement was particularly satisfying for me as it heavily featured IGEL’s flagship UD7 client targeted at graphical use cases which is built around AMD technologies. For example, the technical specifications for the UD7 client features the AMD Embedded RX-216GD 1.6 GHz (Dual-Core) up to 3.0 GHz (boost mode), system on a chip (SoC). With the option for an additional graphics card, the AMD Embedded Radeon™ E9173 discrete GPU can extend the UD7 to support the simultaneous use of up to four digital monitors at 60 Hz by DisplayPort (two in 4K and two in 2K). The flagship UD7 client also features IGEL’s latest security enhancements -- a benefit for scenarios when security is a concern for thin clients. 

 

Last week at IGEL Disrupt Munich, a new version of the UD3 client was announced on BrianMadden.com. The UD3 is supported by a specially optimized AMD Ryzen Embedded R1505G that: uses less power (about 10 watts); features hardware optimizations for PCoIP (PC over IP) Ultra; and leverages the AMD Secure Processor feature checks to help assure the UEFI is signed by IGEL. The availability is expected May 2020, but in the meantime information currently exists about the specifications and IGEL solution architect blogs, including a blog by Fredrik Brattstig.

 

My role at AMD is largely associated with evaluating the performance of our Data Center and Cloud products including AMD Radeon Pro V340 and AMD Radeon Instinct MI25 server GPUs. The evaluations are conducted within the context of the protocols and EUC/VDI environments used in scenarios featuring Azure, RDP, Citrix, VMware, and Teradici. Most remoting protocols have a feature often referred to as “Back-pressure” – a process whereby the end-client is aware of whether it is keeping up with the server frame rate and alerts the server accordingly. It’s widely known that there’s no point churning out frames if the end-point can’t handle the rate. So it’s important to have a suitably powerful end-point that can become the most significant factor in the overall user experience. IGEL, supported by AMD solutions, has proved very popular, You can discover from IGEL about the use cases and features of the UD3 and UD7.

 

The IGEL and Microsoft partnership plus WVD support along the AMD enabled NVv4 Azure instances were all featured by the independent blogger, Bas Van Kaam. The recommended blog offers a suitable summary of Ignite and can be found here.

 

Now that these major events have concluded, I’m eager to get back in the AMD lab to “kick the tires” of WVD and the NVv4 Azure instances with the WVD supported IGEL UD7. My goal is to blog about my findings, but I’m eager to discover others’ experiences with thin clients, especially if there are additional factors for consideration. If you want to try out NVv4 with WVD, I recommend a useful video guide available from Microsoft’s Stefan Georgiev on  YouTube.

 

Recommended Links

 

Joe DaSilva is a Cloud Graphics Solutions Architect for AMD. His/her postings are his/her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

AMD GPUs deliver the first shared GPU instances for Microsoft Azure – NVv4 instances

Today, the first Azure instances utilising GPU partitioning technology became available. These instances effectively enable a large server GPU to be partitioned, supplying VMs with an appropriately sized GPU, and opening the way for potential savings in the cost for GPU-enabled cloud VMs.

 

Key to adoption of AMD GPUs by Microsoft Azure was the alignment of our SR-IOV based MxGPU hardware-sharing technologies to Microsoft Hyper-V’s own GPU-P technologies. This is clear validation of our strategy at AMD to work with Microsoft over many years to align with their roadmap resulting in the first GPU sharing solution on Azure, acceptable in terms of user segregation, security features and quality of service. Our virtualised GPU sharing technologies have already been proven with other hypervisors including VMware ESXi and the Citrix Hypervisor (XenServer). This is however the first time GPU sharing has been enabled for a Hyper-V based platform with Azure.

The result is a portfolio of instances leveraging both AMD CPUs and GPUs that are sized to the realistic needs of users; ranging from smaller instances that align to the needs of Office workers or Mobile CAD workstations (2 and 4 GB equivalent GPU resource) to larger instances that can support heavier graphical needs and session sharing like needs. AMD professional GPU drivers are offered free along with these instances.

 

vCPUMemoryGPU memoryAzure network
Standard_NV4as_v4414 GB2 GB50 Gbps
Standard_NV8as_v4828 GB4 GB50 Gbps
Standard_NV16as_v41656 GB8 GB50 Gbps
Standard_NV32as_v432112 GB16 GB50 Gbps

 

Initially NVv4 instances will be available in Azure Regions early next year in the South Central US and West Europe Azure regions.

 

Sign-up for preview using this link:  https://aka.ms/NVv4Signup

 

AMD Technology enables Microsoft Azure at Ignite 2019 Microsoft the preview; the interest it attracted in the booth but also in the End User Computing (EUC) and similar communities was fantastic, and it was great to speak to so many users about their enthusiasm for the options. I was cheered to see a blog by cloud community expert Marius Sandbu that covered the announcement but also caught the spirit of what we had hoped to convey.

 

Useful Links:

 

 

AMD at Microsoft Ignite

 

 

 

 

Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

George Watkins is a Datacenter GPU Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

AMD based Microsoft Azure virtual desktops deliver a workstation-class experience in the Cloud

 

Autodesk University is the place to be for professional architects, designers, engineers, and media creators. Of course, AMD will be there, returning as a Gold Sponsor of this important event to provide demonstrations of our most powerful desktop processors and graphics cards, to discuss your biggest challenges, and to reveal the latest technology innovations that enhance the workstation experience.

 

Taking centre stage in our booth, AE310, will be live demonstrations of the Microsoft Azure stack, leveraging the new NVv4 instances. This is the first Windows Azure virtual desktop to be supported by both 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors and Radeon Instinct MI25 GPUs. If you are one of those people who designs, makes and builds the world around us and relies on the highest performance from applications like Autodesk to make things happen, then you owe it to yourself to learn more about the NVv4 instance.

 

Wondering what NVv4 stands for? “N” = GPU Accelerated VM family in Azure. “V” = Visualization. “4” = Generation 4 – which means the NVv4 is the current latest generation of GPU-enabled virtual desktops services from Azure.

 

Be more productive and collaborate by extending workstations to the Cloud

Modern-day designers, architects, and engineers demand the most of their critical tools. Whether in the office or at home, traveling or onsite, they need a workstation-class experience that provides flexibility and reliability no matter where in the world a project might take them. The NVv4 virtual desktops bring the full power of a traditional workstation configuration to bear whenever and wherever it’s needed. AMD GPU-enabled NVv4 virtual desktops make it possible to finally overcome the difficulty of balancing performance, mobility, and cost when addressing traditional Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) workloads.

 

Just what are Microsoft Azure NVv4 instances?

The NVv4 is a new, virtual desktop solution in Microsoft Azure that takes advantage of SR-IOV technologies (Single-root input/output virtualization) to introduce, for the first time, GPU-partitioning (or GPU-P). This gives customers maximum flexibility and choice by providing dedicated CPU/GPU-supported virtual desktops that best suit their workloads and price points. In fact, NVv4 will offer four distinct instance options to choose from, scaled to share a single GPU’s resources among as many as eight Virtual Machines. 

 

Alternatively, IT managers can maximize the user density of NVv4 with Windows 10 EVD, supported by Windows Virtual Desktop and available plug-ins from Citrix and Teradici. Anyone interested in trying the NVv4 experience for themselves can do so by signing up for AMD’s customer preview.

 

What will AMD be showing at AU?

Throughout Autodesk University, we will be showcasing our preliminary test environment, based on the planned NVv4 hardware and software stack, available in Microsoft Azure. You will get the chance to see a variety of the latest Autodesk applications for AEC and CAD workloads. AU19 will be a great opportunity to speak to the AMD team and explore how AMD-enabled virtual desktops in Microsoft Azure may help your organization. 

 

 

George Watkins is a Datacenter GPU Marketing Manager for AMD. His/her postings are his/her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied. 

AMD technology makes GPU enabled virtual desktops possible across the entire Enterprise!  

 

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! My first opportunity to participate in the 2019 Microsoft Ignite conference, promises to set a new highwater mark for impactful demonstrations, learning opportunities, and meaningful collaboration between AMD technology and the Microsoft ecosystem.

 

This year the AMD booth will be packed with technologies and demonstrations of many of the latest AMD solutions with Microsoft, including the latest high-performance laptops and virtual desktops. For me though, the highlight at Ignite is the exciting news around Microsoft Azure NVv4 instances; the first Windows Azure virtual desktop supported by 2nd gen AMD EPYCTM processors and Radeon InstinctTM GPUs.

 

Wondering what does NVv4 stands for? “N” = GPU Accelerated VM family in Azure “V” = Visualization “4” = Generation 4 – which means the NVv4 is the latest generation of GPU enabled virtual desktops services from Azure.

 

Modern day applications want more

This is an important distinction because many modern productivity applications like Office 365, video conferencing and web browsing are designed to harness the GPU to deliver the best possible application experience. Many non-GPU VMs however struggle to deliver that experience while previous GPU-accelerated VMs could only be configured, and priced, to deliver a full GPU as a workstation experience – making them too costly for everyday users.   

 

Re-evaluate GPU enabled Virtual desktops

The introduction of AMD powered NVv4 instances is shifting the expectations for VM deployments and is sure to have IT managers taking note. What’s changed? Well, The NVv4 instance is the first VM on Microsoft Azure to take advantage of SR-IOV technologies (Single-root input/output virtualization) and introduces GPU partitioning across four new options. This gives customers greater flexibility, enabling the entire enterprise to enjoy dedicated CPU/GPU virtual desktops, delivering the best application experience regardless of the workloads. In fact, NVv4 will offer four distinct instance options to choose from, scaled to share a single GPU’s resources among as many as eight Virtual Machines. Alternatively, IT managers can maximize the user density of NVv4 with Windows 10 multi-sessions, supported by Windows Virtual Desktop with available plug-ins from Citrix and Teradici. Anyone interested in trying the NVv4 experience for themselves can do so by signing up to customer preview.

 

Attending Ignite?

During Ignite, there will be a great opportunity to speak to our team about the benefits of all the AMD supported Azure instances and have the chance to sign up to the NVv4 customer preview at the AMD booth #249. If you want to learn more about the technologies powering NVv4 you might like to join these AMD sessions: Technical (BRK1114, Thursday 7th Nov, 11:30am),Hub (THR1086, 9am, Tuesday 5th Nov) and a NVv4 dedicated session by Microsoft (BRK3121) if you are lucky enough to be there in person.

 

From Azure to Windows, we love Microsoft! Come visit AMD  Booth #249 and experience all of our technology demonstrations and discuss how we can address your business needs!

 virtualization, single root input/output virtualization or SR-IOV (Single-root input/output virtualization) is a specification that allows the isolation of PCI Express resources between different users. It is already the standard used to share networking resources (NICs) and secure network traffic. Each resource has Virtual Functions (VF) associated and each VM (Virtual machine) can only access the physical resource via its own allocated VF.

 

 

 

The AMD MxGPU (GPU sharing technology) is the industry’s first SR-IOV based GPU sharing technology designed for cloud and datacenter. So why did we choose SR-IOV?

 

 

      
  • Industry standard. SR-IOV is the long-established industry standard for virtualising PCIE devices. As such, the standards are openly scrutinised for security.
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  • The isolation provided by VFs helps ensure each VM is isolated from other e.g. memory is secured and not shared.
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  • Long-term we believe SR-IOV is a base technology that will allow for scalability and higher user densities long term as a technology that minimises context switching overheads.
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  • Stability and reliability. SR-IOV allows us to provide each VM with its own dedicated share of a GPU and it does not compete with other users, helping ensure the resource available is consistent and the same; users can avoid the unreliability associated with noisy neighbours and experience deterministic QoS.

 

 

 

 

SR-IOV a technology that has evolved with and for cloud

 

Back in 2009. veteran blogger Scott Lowe wrote an introduction to SR-IOV predicting it would become mainstream, it’s great context to the environment and technology of the time. Whilst we could have accelerated to market using a bespoke proprietary memory management unit (MMU), we instead chose to work with the major hardware, hypervisor and operating system vendors to evolve the technologies to an industry wide fit for our long-term needs.

 

 

The evolution of SR-IOV was carefully managed and in2016 was able AMD to release the world’s first SR-IOV based GPU sharing solution for cloud and virtualisation. Beyond the obvious security and quality benefits of aligning to the core technology, the standards offer potential long-term scalability that a bespoke implementation wouldn’t have offered us.

 

 

We are seeing increasing rewards from this approach now, as other vendors -- particularly Microsoft -- have placed SR-IOV at the core of their technologies and infrastructure. This alignment has streamlined our joint projects, leading to the announcement of MXGPU into the Azure cloud to enable cost-effectively sized and priced GPU enabled VMs. (You can register interest with Microsoft in the release availability, here.) MxGPU SR-IOV support is also available and proven for Citrix XenServer, XenDesktop and XenApp, VMware ESXi, Horizon View and open source KVM. Read more, here.

 

 

 

 

SR-IOV and MXGPU at Ignite

 

Our product management team will be at Microsoft Ignite (4-8 November), and you can find us on booth #249. You might also like to join these AMD sessions: technical session (BRK1114, Friday 8th Nov, 9am) and hub session (THR1086, 9am, Tuesday 5th Nov) if you are lucky enough to be there in person.

 

 

 

 

Learn More

 

 

      
  • Microsoft high commitment and investment in integrating the SR-IOV standards into the core of their platforms such as Windows and Hyper-V is significant and as such they’ve published significant information on this approach including overviews and architectural deep-dives.
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  • Our hypervisor and virtualisation partners have also been investing in core SR-IOV technologies, as well as releasing information as to the benefits and reasons for this approach. In September 2018, Citrix released XenServer 7.6; the release notes are available to read, amongst other features they cover Citrix’s and XenServer’s adoption of SR-IOV for networking (NICs – Network Interface Cards).  

 

 

 

 

 

The SR-IOV standard

 

The SR-IOV standard is controlled and maintained by the PCI-SIG foundation. The regulation and scrutiny of the standard is maintained with cross-industry membership and funding, alongside a compliance programme and certified integrator list.

 

 

MXGPU more than SR-IOV

 

Of course, there is more to MXGPU than SR-IOV, it is just one of core technologies on top of which we have built our GPU sharing and virtualisation products.  We are however pleased that we were the first vendor to achieve GPU sharing the SR-IOV ‘gold-standard’.