Demand for the latest consumer-grade graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia exceeds supply so badly that the scalping business now thrives more than ever. But gamers aren't the only customers who want to buy the latest GPUs. Apparently demand for Nvidia's A100 among data centers, scientists, and the HPC community is so high that it will take several months for the company to catch up, its VP recently admitted.
"It is going to take several months to catch up some of the demand," said Ian Buck, vice president of Accelerated Computing Business Unit at Nvidia, at Wells Fargo TMT Broker Conference Call. "What's exciting is the sort of the interest and growth in both training and inference. […] Every time we introduce a new architecture, it's a game changer, right? So A100 is 20x better performance than V100, and with that comes a new wave of demand and interest in our products." (based on SeekingAlpha's transcript.)
Nvidia's A100 is pretty much a universal GPU that supports a host of new instructions and formats for various compute workloads. The GPU is manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) using one of its 7nm fabrication processes, one of the most popular advanced technologies today. The 7nm TSMC process is also used to manufacture dozens of chips for the mass market, including SoCs for Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Sony's PlayStation 5.
Meanwhile, Nvidia's A100 is among the largest chips currently produced by TSMC, and it's typically rather challenging to hit great yields with this large of a die. In addition to the GPU silicon, the A100 products also consume loads of HBM2 memory – each carries 40GB of HBM2 onboard.
"It is always an exciting time for me to help bring all those platforms to market, whether they are hyperscalers, who are just now bringing online, all the OEMs as they're launching their products, as well as the rest of the market," said Buck. "So, it will take several months to catch up with the demand."
The A100's flexibility allows its use in a wide variety of applications, including AI/ML inference and training, as well as all kinds of high-performance computing (HPC). The A100 also delivers significantly higher performance than the Tesla V100, its predecessor. The A100 is 25% faster in FP32/FP64 computing, up to four times faster in Big Data analytics, and up to 20 times faster in certain edge cases where its architecture can spread its wings. Given the capabilities and performance of Nvidia's latest datacenter GPU, it's not surprising that demand is so high.
Nvidia does not disclose the pricing of its compute accelerators, such as the A100 or its predecessors. Resellers sell Nvidia's new Tesla V100 32GB SXM2 for $14,500, whereas a refurbished card can be obtained for $7,515. The latest A100 may cost more than its predecessor, so Nvidia seems to have a boatload of $15,000+ GPUs (that's a speculative price) on backorder.
Interestingly, Nvidia is actually expanding the addressable market for its A100-based solutions. Recently the company introduced its A100 80GB SXM2 GPU that doubles the local memory capacity. The monstrous GPU can be used to process workloads with ultra-large datasets, or it can be partitioned into (up to) seven GPU instances, each with about 10GB of memory. Nvidia expects its partners to ship their A100 80GB-based solutions sometime in the first half of 2021.