AMD’s Firepro S7100X is hardware virtualized

We finally have hardware SR-IOV compatible GPUs

AMD FirePro logoAMD is the first to a fully virtualized GPU with their new Firepro S7100X module. If you have been looking for real SR-IOV compliant graphics, AMD’s new MxGPU tech is what you have been waiting for.

There have been lots of things on the market that claim GPU virtualization but the S7100X is the first to do full SR-IOV in hardware. In an ironic twist the new SX7100x module uses a Tonga ASIC which is hardly new so the hardware has been around for a while. You might recognize it as the thing under the FirePro sticker on the module below.

AMD Firepro S7100X GPU module

Note the elegant red PCB and brilliant copper connectors

That said the chip now has the hardware virtualization functions exposed to the user and will support up to 16 simultaneous VMs. In hardware. Once again it is really in hardware, and yes they are the first to get there despite some floating rhetoric. And yes it is actually that important, enough so that we will repeat the Multiuser GPU (MxGPU) term without wincing like we usually do for such things. If you use VDI or have a virtualization infrastructure in place, you get why this is important. The overhead brought on by virtualizing a GPU is pretty large, you can pay the penalty there or pay it with a 1:1 VM to GPU mapping. Either way the result isn’t all that great, overhead or cost and power. Now you can do it all in a 100W module made for HP blade servers.

So in the end we have an old ASIC with newly exposed features that really does move the state of the art forward. AMD now has a fully hardware virtualized GPU module for blade servers that will vastly increase the efficiency of VDI deployments. SR-IOV compliant GPUs should have been out long ago but at least they are here now. This is once again a really big deal.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate