Microsoft rolls out driver patches for AMD GPUs, supports hot-swappable graphics cards in Linux systems

Microsoft has won cloud computing business in many enterprises around the world with its Azure server technology. Currently, Microsoft uses AMD data center GPUs and Linux in its servers. However, when a new GPU needs to be replaced or installed, the server needs to be shut down, which is obviously inconvenient.

As a result, Microsoft intends to create a unique driver for AMD GPUs that can enable the “hot-plug” feature of AMD GPUs on their Linux servers. As the name suggests, hot-plug means that a graphics card can be removed from the PCIe interface and replaced with another while the system is active.

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Shuotao Xu, an engineer at Microsoft Research, issued the following request for a code review of AMD GPU hot-plug support for the Linux operating system. It focuses on Microsoft Azure systems to help support GPU-based hot-plug functionality when needed. A similar request was made on GitHub by the Microsoft research group.

Microsoft has provided little information about the new GPU technology, a driver that is proprietary to Microsoft and is designed to allow Azure systems to include GPU acceleration into servers that don’t already have a graphics card installed.

Hot-plugging graphics cards and accelerator cards over PCIe is a new concept. The original hotplug was used in some consumer systems, such as eGFX, which allowed graphics cards to be hot-plugged via Thunderbolt. The new technology will benefit Microsoft’s Azure systems, AMD and the company’s GPU lineup as data centers become more commonplace in the market.

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