Google is now the first major cloud provider to offer NVIDIA A100 instance support, at least with its alpha instance launch. Google Compute Engine now has (in alpha) the Accelerator Optimized VM A2 instance family powered by NVIDIA A100 GPUs. One may remember that the NVIDIA A100 family, the company’s Ampere architecture successor to its Volta V100 generation, just launched a month ago. In the announcement, we got a few insights into how Google is deploying the A100.
GCP Accelerator Optimized VM A2 Instances with NVIDIA A100 GPUs
While Google Cloud announced that Google Kubernetes Engine, Cloud AI Platform, and other Google Cloud services will get NVIDIA A100 support in the future, we now have a general-purpose A100 instance. At first, we thought that this was a deployment of the new NVIDIA A100 PCIe add-in card but it does not appear to be the case.
In the new Alpha instances, Google Compute Engine allows customers to access up to 16 A100 GPUs. The a2-megagpu-16g instance uses 16x NVIDIA A100 GPUs and is connected via NVSwitch. With 16x GPUs using NVSwitch, we do not have a PCIe system, nor a set of smaller NVIDIA A100 4x GPU HGX Redstone Platforms. Instead, we have a full NVIDIA HGX-2 Design that is effectively two NVIDIA DGX A100‘s.
At STH, we recently reviewed the Inspur NF5488M5 with 8x NVIDIA V100 based on HGX-2. The Google deployment is effectively two of these HGX-2 baseboards, updated for the A100 making it similar to a NVIDIA DGX-2 updated for the NVIDIA A100 generation.
The Google Cloud NVIDIA A100 announcement was widely expected to happen at some point. NVIDIA had Google Cloud on the HGX A100 slide. What is very interesting is that they only showed the 8x GPU HGX A100 unit, not the 16x GPU HGX A100 at the time. Clearly we can now infer that if Google is deploying 16x GPU servers that others may be as well.
We expect other cloud providers to launch their NVIDIA A100 offerings in the near future since once one cloud provider launches, the others tend to follow. Of course, this is an “alpha” launch, not a full general availability launch. Google and NVIDIA are trying to notch a quick win with this announcement. Still, for those who are eagerly awaiting the new NVIDIA A100 chips on cloud platforms, the wait is either over or nearing being over as the announcements have started.
Here are the instance sizes for the new A2 instance family.