Nvidia reveals a whole new kind of Ethernet for generative AI

Nvidia Spectrum-4 switch
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia has announced details of a new networking platform designed specifically with generative AI workloads in mind, promising lightning-speed lossless networking.

The company’s new Spectrum-X technology is built using the Spectrum-4 Ethernet switch and BlueField-3 DPU, and promises performance and power efficiency increases of as much as 1.7x.

In a press release, the company said: “The delivery of end-to-end capabilities reduces run-times of massive transformer-based generative AI models,” which in turn enables companies to operate and make decisions more quickly, unlocking cost-saving potential.

Spectrum-X Ethernet

Nvidia’s Networking Senior VP, Gilad Shainer, said: “Spectrum-X is a new class of Ethernet networking that removes barriers for next-generation AI workloads that have the potential to transform entire industries.”

Its key component, the Spectrum-4 Ethernet switch, is capable of 51 Tb/sec speeds. What this means for consumers is that, in conjunction with BlueField-3 DPUs and Nvidia LinkX optics, a 400 Gigabit Ethernet network is enabled.

The company looked to provide an insight into the powerful networking capabilities that AI supercomputers can now tap into in real-world cases:

“Nvidia Spectrum-X enables unprecedented scale of 256 200Gb/s ports connected by a single switch, or 16,000 ports in a two-tier leaf-spine topology to support the growth and expansion of AI clouds while maintaining high levels of performance and minimizing network latency.”

Elsewhere, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang held up the Spectrum-4 switch chip during his presentation at the Computex expo’s opening speech, sharing more insight into its design. The hundred billion transistors on a 90x90 mm die draws around 500 watts, he said.

Already, Nvidia is testing its Spectrum-X in its Israeli data center in the Israel 1, a hyperscale generative AI supercomputer running Dell PowerEdge XE9680 servers based on the Nvidia HGX H100 eight-GPU platform.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!