Peer 1 starts hosting cloud-based GPUs

Vancouver-based infrastructure service provider Peer 1 Network Enterprises Inc. is now offering cloud-based graphics processing units (GPUs) based out the company’s flagship data centre in Toronto.

The GPU Cloud, announced at the Siggraph International Conference in Los Angeles, Calif., runs NVIDIA Corp.’s Tesla S1070 and Tesla M2050 hosted GPUs and the RealityServer 3D Web application service platform from mental images GmbH, a subsidiary of NVIDIA based in Berlin, Germany.

Moving workloads off of a CPU onto a GPU results in massive performance improvements, said Robert Miggins, senior vice-president of business development at Peer 1 Hosting. “There’s an appeal about GPUs over CPUs, period,” he said.

But no other company has offered hosted GPU’s until now, he said. “You get massive performance improvements and the flexibility of utility-based pricing and the ease of turning things on and turning things off,” he said.

With the GPUs, Peer 1 Hosting says it can offer “flexible and reliable access to a system capable of delivering high computational performance across demanding applications” like graphics rendering, complex quantitative processing, video compression and 3D Web services.

“These GPUs from NVIDIA allow a user to accomplish workloads of any kind,” said Miggins. Applications include 3D rendering, analyzing geophysical data in the oil and gas industry, and number crunching in the insurance and finance industries.

Latency is always a concern, but “we feel we’ve gotten that well taken care of,” said Miggins. “The great thing about Peer 1’s story is we own and operate the network,” he said.

“We’ve got this incredibly performance-driven, super-fast network that guarantees not only 100 per cent uptime, which is something we offer standard with the zero packet loss network, but it’s high-performance,” he said.

One of the complexities of running hosted GPUs is that they draw a lot of power, said Miggins, but the company is “very enthusiastic” about the Toronto data centre location. “We’ve got loads of empty space, we’ve got loads of unused power and it’s just the perfect place,” he said.

Toronto-based hosting will also hold special appeal to Canadian customers.

Canadian customers often want to have their data stored in Canada and questions about geography come up frequently, he said. “The notion of running their hosting or storing their data in the U.S. sometimes presents problems,” he said.

“We are just thrilled to be able to say this is in Toronto – carry on,” said Miggins.

Location of data and lock-in with one vendor and are the biggest issues for most Canadian organizations, said Sebastien Ruest, vice-president of services and technology research at IDC Canada Ltd.

The Toronto location is a plus, which eliminates the need to deal with concerns like the U.S.A. Patriot Act and other regulations currently in place for the transfer of data cross-border, he said.

Organizations are also concerned about hosting their data with a company that won’t last, said Ruest. “You need an established partner,” he said.

Established partners, like Peer 1 or Microsoft Corp., offer hosting on their own data centres and give that sense they are “not going to fold tomorrow,” he said.

Peer 1 is really focusing on compute power, said Ruest. “The beauty about it is that this is probably the most expensive part of the infrastructure investment an organization has to make,” he said.

Organizations don’t have to buy the compute capabilities themselves, install and manage them in their data centre and can eliminate resources and operating costs, he said.

Ruest said Microsoft’s Azure platform offers some competition at the compute capability level. 

Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur. 

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