NVIDIA’s Tech Gives Data Centers a Wellness Check

NVIDIA wants to keep its data centers from falling apart.

Photo by Panumas Nikhomkhai on Pexels.

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NVIDIA wants to make sure its data centers are eating an apple a day. 

The company filed a patent application for a “health monitoring” system, specifically for secure data centers. The patent is quite wide-reaching, but essentially, NVIDIA’s system runs diagnostic evaluations on different parts of data centers using an AI model to check data that would otherwise not be allowed outside of the facility due to its secure nature. 

“Certain data centers may operate with data access restrictions where log information is not transmitted outside of a secure boundary.” NVIDIA said.”These secure data centers may not be able to provide sufficient information to obtain diagnostic support, and as a result, lifecycle monitoring may be impeded.”

In conventional systems, a data center operator would send log data to a diagnostics and debugging team to figure out what an issue is and how to fix it. In secure data centers, information can’t leave the premises, and “without sufficient information, debugging may be challenging or may not be performed.” 

Rather than transmitting log data outside of the data center for review, NVIDIA’s system uses a model that’s first transmitted into the data center, and log data is collected on-premise. The system then transmits the model and data it collected out of the data center, specifically using homomorphic encryption, which is a way to encrypt the data so that an AI model could use it without decrypting it. 

This way, the model can generate diagnostic reports on the data center, finding errors and recommending corrective action without violating its security rules. 

Photo via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Data centers make up the bulk of NVIDIA’s business. In its most recent quarter, the company posted record data center revenue at $10.32 billion, up 171% year over year, which encapsulates its booming GPU and AI chips business. Adding to its already vast line of data center-related offerings only serves to help the company grow its strongest business unit. 

And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen NVIDIA seek to patent methods to keep its data centers in check: The company also filed a patent for a data center “self-healing” system, which essentially lets centers diagnose and fix their own issues with limited human intervention. 

“Where NVIDIA’s business has really taken off is with their GPUs. They have a very strong position on the high-performance elements within a data center,” said Trevor Morgan, VP of product at data services company OpenDrives. With this extensive patent, NVIDIA is laying the groundwork to control even more of those elements, he said. 

Keeping data centers healthy is a more important task than ever — and a more difficult one, said Morgan. A data center outage doesn’t leave a small impact nowadays, but halts the operations of swathes of companies that rely on a data center to keep their organizations running, he said. 

“You cannot sustain outages,” said Morgan. “Otherwise, that would be incredibly expensive, and devastating to your brand’s reputation. This (patent) underpins continuity, which is hitting right at the bottom line of (its clients’) companies.” 

The fact that NVIDIA’s patent specifically focuses on secure data centers is also poignant, said Morgan. Data centers are increasingly upping their security measures amid the growing influence of both US and other countries’ government compliance mandates, said Morgan. “If you don’t comply with those, you’re going to cut your business off pretty rapidly.”