Random thoughts on GPUs

DISCLAIMER: ALL THOUGHTS AND STATEMENTS ARE MINE. NO STATEMENTS MADE ARE THOSE OF OR ENDORSED BY MY CURRENT OR FORMER EMPLOYERS.

I was out jogging the other day and listening to my colleagues talk about nVidia GPUs in the datacenter and had some interesting thoughts based on their discussion. You can find their podcast here.

  1. Cost #1 - whenever the discussion around GPUs in the datacenter comes up the inevitable objection around cost comes up. One change to that argument now though is in the ability to repurpose the graphics boards for computational activity. It hasn't been discussed or marketed well that now the graphics boards can be changed on a schedule to then be used for computational purposes in the business. Now the cost equation is no longer just dollar per user and it becomes more palatable.

  2. Cost #2 - are the folks that complain about cost REALLY that concerned with how much something costs? Are the same folks objecting because of cost also driving a Tesla, have the newest iPhone, iWatch, etc.? Now don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with those items. My point though is that there are more cost-effective items for the same functions that those items fulfill. A Chevy Volt will get you from point A to point B just like a Tesla. It doesn't have the style but again we are talking cost, right?

  3. Experience #1 - Rarely does the conversation include a discussion about the experience GPUs bring to the organization and/or user. Improving the user experience has an impact on productivity which leads to improvements in the business. The hard part is measuring productivity and many orgs don't have a good way of doing so. The other issue is measuring the baseline. Think though about physical endpoints and almost all have some sort of graphics associated with them. If they don't and just use integrated, I have no doubt that the experience is not ideal.

  4. Experience #2 - Going back to my statements about Tesla and Apple. How do you think they have driven so much adoption of their products? They make the consumer have a top-notch experience. They aren't concerned with raw costs, cost justifications, etc. They know if they make the experience for the customer easy and flawless, they will spend their money with them.

  5. Security - ok this one is a little bit of a stretch but hear me out. Part of this goes along with my thoughts on experience. But let's assume you work for an organization that gets the lowest cost laptop they can for you. So, you are at home rocking your newly issued but 4-year-old Windows 7 laptop (because it's the 'corporate standard') that has a single processor, 4 GB of memory, and a spinning hard drive. Right next to you is your brand-new Christmas gift to yourself of your MacBook Pro with an eight core M1, 16GB of memory, a 512GB SSD, and 8 core GPU. Which one are you going to choose? So now you are using a personal laptop for business work. At the surface it doesn't seem nefarious, but what kind of data are you accessing when you do this? Do you have the ability to download that information onto your personal computer? Does your personal computer comply with all the corporate policies around security software and hardening? It might for you, but for the general population it is less likely and that increases the chances for security issues. Data exfiltration is a serious concern that cannot be ignored. This may not be a main issue related to GPUs, more of just the cherry on top, but something to be discussed and understood.

Hopefully some of those thoughts rang true to you. If they didn't let me know where you disagree.

Time for another run and some more thoughts! Stay healthy everyone!


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