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NVIDIA GPU Cloud adds support for Microsoft Azure

By Ben Moore
Sat 1 Sep 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Support for Microsoft Azure has been added to NVIDIA GPU Cloud (NGC), the GPU-accelerated cloud platform optimised for deep learning and scientific computing.

NVIDIA senior product marketing manager has published a blog post on the release.

“Ready-to-run containers from NGC with Azure give developers access to on-demand GPU computing that scales to their need, and eliminates the complexity of software integration and testing,” Kawalek writes.

The post outlines the difficulties that can come when trying to build, test and maintain reliable software stacks to run popular deep learning software.

“There are dependencies at the operating system level and with drivers, libraries and runtimes. And many packages recommend differing versions of the supporting components. To make matters worse, the frameworks and applications are updated frequently, meaning this work has to be redone every time a new version rolls out.

“For HPC (high-performance computing), the difficulty is how to deploy the latest software to clusters of systems. In addition to finding and installing the correct dependencies, testing and so forth, you have to do this in a multi-tenant environment and across many systems.

“NGC removes this complexity by providing pre-configured containers with GPU-accelerated software. Its deep learning containers benefit from NVIDIA’s ongoing R&D investment to make sure the containers take advantage of the latest GPU features. And we test, tune and optimise the complete software stack in the deep learning containers with monthly updates to ensure the best possible performance.”

Kawalek also describes NVIDIA’s collaboration and contribution to the open source community allowing developers to have confidence that their efforts are part of an ecosystem that is supported and supportive.

There are currently 35 GPU-accelerated containers for deep learning software, HPC applications, HPC visualisation tools and a variety of partner applications from the NGC container registry that can be run on the following Microsoft Azure instance types with NVIDIA GPUs:

  • NCv3 (1, 2 or 4 NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs)
  • NCv2 (1, 2 or 4 NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs)
  • ND (1, 2 or 4 NVIDIA Tesla P40 GPUs)

The same NGC containers work across Azure instance types, even with different types or quantities of GPUs.

These containers are available on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and can be used by finding the NVIDIA GPU Cloud Image for Deep Learning and HPC (a pre-configured Azure virtual machine image with everything needed to run NGC containers), launching a compatible NVIDIA GPU instance on Azure, and pulling the containers you want from the NGC registry into your running instance.

In addition to using NVIDIA published images on Azure Marketplace to run these NGC containers, Azure Batch AI can also be used to download and run these containers from NGC on Azure NCv2, NCv3 and ND virtual machines.

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