More Cloud GPUs on the Way Voltage Park offers Nvidia GPUs at $1.89/hour for startups and researchers

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More Cloud GPUs on the Way: Voltage Park offers Nvidia GPUs at $1.89/hour for startups and researchers

A new cloud-computing company promises to provide scarce AI processing power to startups and researchers.

What’s new: Voltage Park, a nonprofit north of Silicon Valley, will offer processing power from 24,000 top-of-the-line Nvidia H100 graphics processing units (GPUs) — roughly $500 million worth — at competitive prices. Rival suppliers of cloud-based GPUs are oversubscribed as the chips continue to be in short supply. 

How it works: The company, which is bankrolled by cryptocurrency billionaire Jed McCaleb, plans to build data centers in Texas, Virginia, and Washington. 

  • Voltage Park will charge hourly rates for up to 8 dedicated GPUs. Prices start at $1.89 per hour for a single GPU. In comparison, AWS’s least expensive package offers 8 GPUs for about $43 per hour with a three-year commitment, or $98 per hour on-demand.
  • Customers who need more H100s will be able to use up to 248 of the chips on a short-term lease or up to 4,088 on a year-long lease. 
  • The company is serving select startups including Character AI and Atomic AI. It will welcome other startups, nonprofits, and research institutions in January 2024.

Behind the news: A shortage of Nvidia’s high-end GPUs, which are optimized to process machine learning workloads, has bedeviled organizations that aim to join the generative AI boom. Businesses are scrambling to manage the demand.

  • Engineers and entrepreneurs have been paying heavy premiums for the chips, if they are available at all. 
  • Cloud provider CoreWeave borrowed $2.3 billion to build a cluster of 45,000 Nvidia GPUs. That provider’s H100 prices start at $4.76 per hour. 
  • China is also facing a GPU shortage, but for a different reason: Last year, the U.S. government imposed restrictions â€” and recently tightened them — on sales of high-performance chips produced by U.S. companies to Chinese customers. Baidu ordered 1,600 AI chips from Huawei, a sign that homegrown alternatives may be emerging.

Why it matters: Training and serving state-of-the-art AI systems requires huge amounts of processing power. Thus AI startups are facing serious obstacles amid the scarcity of specialized hardware. Larger companies have either their own processing power or strong relationships with cloud providers. Smaller providers such as DataCrunch, Lambda Labs, and Paperspace have limited supply. As generative AI booms, organizations that can provide access to GPUs on flexible terms are likely to find takers.

We’re thinking: Voltage Park is a subsidiary of McCaleb’s philanthropic organization, and its profits will fund the organization’s activities, about which its website offers no information. Nonprofit status can be a prelude to for-profit business. We’re curious to see where this company is headed.


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