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June 10, 2024

Introducing VM-based GPU Partitioning for AI Workloads in Windows Server 2025

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Forward-looking: The upcoming update to Microsoft’s server operating system is set to introduce a significant feature designed to enhance AI workloads. With the release of Windows Server 2025, a new function known as GPU Partitioning will be incorporated, allowing multiple virtual machines to shared access to a single GPU’s power.

The innovative GPU Partitioning (GPU-P) technology from Microsoft is poised to transform the utilization of GPU resources in virtual environments. This feature enables the division of a single physical GPU into multiple partitions, granting each a portion of the graphics card’s total capacity. These partitions can then be allocated to individual VMs on a single server, allowing for efficient sharing of a GPU among several VMs as though each partition were an independent GPU.

This technology also incorporates a mechanism known as failover clustering. Should a hardware issue occur or a VM require migration on one server node, it can reboot on an alternate node within the cluster and utilize a GPU partition from that other server.

Furthermore, Microsoft is focused on developing centralized management tools that simplify the administration of this new GPU virtualization technology. The Windows Admin from Windows is also aiming to provide a comprehensive series of management tools designed to aid administrators in configuring and managing this new GPU virtualization technology with ease. The Windows Admin Center is expected to offer a unified interface that displays GPU partition details across the cluster and assists in the allocation of these partitions to VMs when necessary.

With the rising costs of GPUs, particularly the models designed for AI applications, companies can now use GPU-P to enhance the return on their investments..

Microsoft announced that GPU-P was created in a collaborative effort with Nvidia. Nvidia’s enterprise VP, Bob Pette, commended the advanced feature, noting its security, efficiency, and powerful performance capabilities. He stated that activating this feature enables businesses to “run their critical AI workloads with unprecedented efficiency.”

While cloud platforms have been at the forefront of AI technology, businesses requiring on-premise AI operations for various reasons, like regulatory and security concerns, will find the sophisticated GPU sharing features integrated into Windows as an attractive option.

In addition to GPU-P, Microsoft unveiled several other enhancements for Windows Server 2025 in April. These include receiving security updates without needing to reboot—made possible by clever in-memory code changes. There are also notable improvements in SSDs equipped with NVME technology, which see a 70-percent rise in IOPS. Furthermore, the operating system will be offered both through a subscription model and a one-time license purchase.

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