Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

By John Russell

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The new instance is based on AMD’s FirePro S7150x2 Server GPUs equipped with AMD Multiuser GPU technology. The AWS move is a win for AMD which has been on a roll of late with the launch of its EPYC chip line perhaps being the high point at least in HPC terms.

In making the announcement, AWS said the new instance type allows users to run graphics applications at a fraction of the cost of using graphics workstations, and can reduce the cost of streaming graphics applications with AppStream 2.0 by up to 50%. Achieving fast graphics performance in the cloud has long been challenging while boosting performance locally with high-end workstations is expensive.

“Graphics Design instances are ideal for delivering applications that rely on hardware acceleration of DirectX, OpenGL, or OpenCL, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Autodesk Revit, and Siemens NX. With this launch, AppStream 2.0 now offers three graphics instance types – Graphics Design, Graphics Desktop, and Graphics Pro – optimized to support a broad selection of graphics workloads,” said AWS.

There are four Graphics Design instance sizes with different GPU and compute combinations that scale to support the performance requirements of a range of graphics applications such as engineering and creative design. The smallest instance size available “is large, with 2 vCPU, 7.5 GiB system memory, and 1 GiB graphics memory. The highest performing instance size available is 4xlarge with 16 vCPUs, 61 GiB system memory, and 8 GiB graphics memory. This range of instance sizes allows you to select the configuration that matches your application’s requirements and provide your users a fluid and high-performance experience.”

Writing in a blog today, Michael DeNeffe, AMD director of cloud graphics said, “I’m thrilled that AWS has chosen AMD Radeon Pro MxGPU (multiuser GPU) technology for their new Graphics Design instance type on Amazon AppStream 2.0.  Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed, secure application streaming service that allows you to stream desktop applications from AWS to any device running a web browser, without rewriting them. The new Graphics Design instance type runs on our S7150x2 GPU, the virtualized graphics workhorse of our Radeon Pro graphics product.”

Radeon Pro virtualized GPUs feature Multi-user GPU, which AMD says is the industry’s first and only hardware-based virtualization technology in a GPU, based on SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization). SR-IOV is a big deal for three reasons, says the company:

  • GPU scheduling logic in hardware helps to ensure better quality of service for users
  • It preserves the data integrity of Virtualized Machines (VM) and their application data through hardware-enforced memory isolation logic preventing one VM from being able to access another VM’s data
  • It exposes all graphics functionality of the GPU to applications allowing for full virtualization support for not only graphics APIs like DirectX and OpenGL but also GPU compute APIs like OpenCL.

It’s worth noting that AppStream 2.0 also has GPU instances based Nvidia GPUs (Graphics Desktop instance (K520) and Graphics Pro (Tesla M60)). AWS is the latest cloud computing company to use Radeon Pro technology, reports AMD, citing recent collaborations with Google and Alibaba.

Link to AWS announcement: https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2017/09/introducing-amazon-appstream-2-graphics-design-a-new-lower-cost-instance-type-for-streaming-graphics-applications/

Link to AMD blog: https://pro.radeon.com/en-us/secure-mobility-amd-radeon-pro-gpus-bring-cutting-edge-graphics-virtualization-to-amazon-appstream-2-0/

Link to list of AppStream 2.0 instances: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/appstream2/latest/developerguide/instance-types.html

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