Edge computing is fast becoming one of IT’s hottest new growth areas and is widely seen as ushering in a new era of digital services for businesses and consumers. Many IT companies are targeting emerging opportunities to deliver edge computing, including NVIDIA, a specialist provider of graphics processing units (GPUs) for the gaming industry.
At the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Los Angeles, NVIDIA unveiled a broad swathe of initiatives that will earn it a leading position in this increasingly important market.
Edge computing refers to the use of computer processing, data storage and analytics capabilities close to the places where data is collected and where digital content and applications are consumed. The benefits of edge computing include the higher performance that can be achieved when powering applications closer to points of consumption. They also include being able to make faster decisions about data collected from internet-connected sensors on factory floors and transportation networks and in retail outlets and other locations.
The additional use of hardware accelerators such as NVIDIA’s GPUs increases the ability of edge computing technology to process terabytes of data per second, enabling support for a broader range of applications.
At MWC, NVIDIA announced the NVIDIA EGX Edge Supercomputing Platform, a high-performance cloud-native platform that combines NVIDIA CUDA-X software with NVIDIA-certified GPU servers. The platform allows organisations to leverage streaming data from factory floors, manufacturing inspection lines and city streets, and to use this data to deliver next-generation artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G-based network services, with high performance and low latency.
NVIDIA already has several organisations using its EGX platform, including Walmart, BMW and Procter & Gamble, as well as the cities of San Francisco and Las Vegas.
The platform can support a range of additional applications, including NVIDIA Metropolis, which enables the development of smart city and intelligent video analytics applications. It also supports the NVIDIA Aerial software developer kit, which was also announced at MWC and which allows telecoms network operators to build completely virtualised 5G radio access networks that are highly programmable, scalable and energy-efficient, and can ultimately enable them to offer new services such as smart factories, augmented reality, virtual reality and cloud gaming.
NVIDIA sees 5G as an important enabler of some of the same applications edge computing will support. In addition to 5G’s faster data transmission speeds, 5G infrastructure such as network base stations will act as key locations for deploying edge computing technology, including NVIDIA’s own GPUs.
At MWC NVIDIA announced new partnerships with Swedish equipment manufacturer, Ericsson, and IBM’s open-source, cloud software business, Red Hat, which are specifically aimed at helping 5G network operators exploit the potential of GPUs. NVIDIA and Microsoft announced deeper integration between NVIDIA’s EGX platform and Microsoft’s Azure public cloud platform, along with a joint commitment to advance edge-to-cloud AI computing capabilities.
A broad partnership approach – together with its efforts leverage its GPU strengths, and a strategy that spans different types of edge locations – will help to establish NVIDIA as a leader in the fast-changing market for edge computing. Edge computing advancements will not only bring new benefits to online gaming customers, but will pave the way for a wide range of new services for businesses and consumers.