Quick access to temporary GPU resources in the cloud

CSC provides researchers with quick access to temporary GPU resources in the cloud.

When researchers of the Computer Vision and Geometry Group urgently needed temporary access to GPU computing power, ETH’s Cloud Service Center (CSC) helped to find a solution and made suitable cloud resources available in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) have become a mainstay in AI research. ETH’s HPC Euler cluster offers a variety of GPU resources to shareholders. When more computing resources are needed, public clouds can provide GPU processing power on short notice. In preparation for an upcoming conference, researchers of the Computer Vision and Geometry Group (CVG) found themselves in dire need of additional GPU resources and contacted Scientific IT Services (SIS) for help which turned to the Cloud Service Center.

Within a few days the researchers received an offer specific to their technical requirements within the scope of an existing framework contract between ETH Zurich and Google. ITS CCR handled procuring the service and CSC enabled access to the cloud platform. Once that was done, researchers were able to set up a computing environment and create and use GPU resources very quickly.

Silvan Weder, a doctoral researcher at CVG, is delighted with his experience and confirms that everything was seamless. «CSC provided access quickly and the setup process was the same as setting up Linux machines in the lab. Within two hours students were able to build virtual machines, upload data and start launching their training.»

Fixed budgets were set for the projects run by two doctoral researchers. To save cost, GPUs were attached only when needed and VMs were manually stopped when not in use. The cloud consumption cost was five times lower than estimated and came out to CHF 1’200. If Silvan had known six weeks in advance that additional computing resources would be needed, he would even have been able to apply for Google research credits for each project.

This example shows nicely how CSC can use existing framework contracts to provide researchers with access to cloud resources quickly, efficiently and in compliance with ETH’s finance, legal and security regulations.

Please contact Fabio Consani (fabio.consani@id.ethz.ch) for more information.

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