I wrote back in September about why programming the GPU is going mainstream. That’s even more the case today, with Amazon’s announcement of a Cluster GPU instance for the Elastic Compute Cloud. It is also a vote of confidence for NVIDIA’s CUDA architecture. Each Cluster GPU instance has two NVIDIA Tesla M2050 GPUs installed and costs $2.10 per hour. If one GPU instance is not enough, you can use up to 8 by default, with more available on request.
GPU programming in the cloud makes sense in cases where you need the performance of a super-computer, but not very often. It could also enable some powerful mobile applications, maybe in financial analysis, or image manipulation, where you use a mobile device to input data and view the results, but cloud processing to do the heavy lifting.
One of the ideas I discussed with someone from Adobe at the NVIDIA GPU conference was to integrate a cloud processing service with PhotoShop, so you could send an image to the cloud, have some transformative magic done, and receive the processed image back.
The snag with this approach is that in many cases you have to shift a lot of data back and forth, which means you need a lot of bandwidth available before it makes sense. Still, Amazon has now provided the infrastructure to make processing as a service easy to offer. It is now over to the rest of us to find interesting ways to use it.