About GPUs in Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)

This page helps you consider choices for requesting GPUs in Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), including:

In GKE, the way you request GPU hardware depends on whether you are using Autopilot or Standard. In Autopilot, you request GPU hardware by specifying GPU resources in your workloads. In GKE Standard, you can attach GPU hardware to nodes in your clusters, and then allocate GPU resources to containerized workloads running on those nodes. For detailed instructions on how to attach and use GPUs in your workloads, refer to Deploy GPU workloads on Autopilot or Run GPUs on Standard node pools.

The GPU hardware that's available for use in GKE is a subset of the Compute Engine GPUs for compute workloads. The specific hardware that's available depends on the Compute Engine region or zone of your cluster. For specific availability, refer to GPU regions and zones.

GKE offers some GPU-specific features to improve efficient GPU resource utilization of workloads running on your nodes, including time-sharing, multi-instance GPUs, and multi-instance GPUs with NVIDIA MPS.

Plan GPU quota

Your GPU quota is the maximum number of GPUs that can run in your Google Cloud project. To use GPUs in your GKE clusters, your project must have enough GPU quota.

Your GPU quota should be at least equal to the total number of GPUs you intend to run in your cluster. If you enable cluster autoscaling, you should request GPU quota at least equivalent to your cluster's maximum number of nodes multiplied by the number of GPUs per node.

For example, if you expect to utilize three nodes with two GPUs each, then six is the GPU quota required for your project.

To request additional GPU quota, follow the instructions in Requesting a higher quota limit, using gpus as the metric.

Choose GPU support using Autopilot or Standard

GPUs are available in Autopilot and Standard clusters. We recommend that you use Autopilot clusters for a fully managed Kubernetes experience. In Autopilot, GKE manages driver installation, node scaling, Pod isolation, and node provisioning.

The following table provides an overview of the differences between Autopilot and Standard GPU support:

Description Autopilot Standard
Requesting GPU hardware Specify GPU resources in your workloads. Attach GPU hardware to nodes in your clusters, and then allocate GPU resources to containerized workloads running on those nodes.
GPU hardware availability
  • NVIDIA A100 40GB
  • NVIDIA A100 80GB
  • NVIDIA H100 80GB
All GPU types that are supported by Compute Engine
Selecting a GPU You request a GPU quantity and type in your workload specification. By default, Autopilot installs the default driver for that GKE version and manages your nodes. To select a specific driver version in Autopilot, see NVIDIA drivers selection for Autopilot GPU Pods. You perform the steps described on Run GPUs on Standard node pools:
  1. Create a node pool with the specific GPU type and corresponding Compute Engine machine type and choose a driver to install.
  2. Manually install GPU drivers on the nodes if you didn't use automatic installation.
  3. Request GPU quantities in Pod specification.
Improve GPU utilization
Security GPUs with GKE Sandbox GPUs with GKE Sandbox
Pricing Autopilot GPU Pod pricing Compute Engine GPU pricing

To choose the GKE mode of operation that's the best fit for your workloads, see Choose a GKE mode of operation.

Optimize resource usage using GPU features in GKE

By default, Kubernetes only supports assigning GPUs as whole units to containers but GKE provides additional features that you can use to optimize the resource usage of your GPU workloads.

The following features are available in GKE to reduce the amount of underutilized GPU resources:

GPU features
Multi-instance GPUs

Available on: Autopilot and Standard

Split a single GPU into up to seven hardware-separated instances that can be assigned as individual GPUs to containers on a node. Each assigned container gets the resources available to that instance.

Time-sharing GPUs

Available on: Autopilot and Standard

Present a single GPU as multiple units to multiple containers on a node. The GPU driver context-switches and allocates the full GPU resources to each assigned container as needed over time.


Available on: Standard

Share a single physical NVIDIA GPU across multiple containers. NVIDIA MPS is an alternative, binary-compatible implementation of the CUDA API designed to transparently enable co-operative multi-process CUDA applications to run concurrently on a single GPU device.

Access the NVIDIA CUDA-X libraries for CUDA applications

CUDA is NVIDIA's parallel computing platform and programming model for GPUs. To use CUDA applications, the image that you use must have the libraries. To add the NVIDIA CUDA-X libraries, you can build and use your own image by including the following values in the LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable in your container specification:

  • /usr/local/cuda-CUDA_VERSION/lib64: the location of the NVIDIA CUDA-X libraries on the node.

    Replace CUDA_VERSION with the CUDA-X image version that you used. Some versions also contain debug utilities in /usr/local/nvidia/bin. For details, see the NVIDIA CUDA image on DockerHub.

    To check the minimum GPU driver version required for your version of CUDA, see CUDA Toolkit and Compatible Driver Versions.

  • /usr/local/nvidia/lib64: the location of the NVIDIA device drivers.
Ensure that the GKE patch version running on your nodes includes a GPU driver version that's compatible with your chosen CUDA version. For a list of GPU driver versions associated with GKE version, refer to the corresponding Container-Optimized OS page linked in the GKE current versions table.

In Autopilot clusters, GKE manages the driver version selection and installation.

Monitor your GPU node workload performance

If your GKE cluster has system metrics enabled, then the following metrics are available in Cloud Monitoring to monitor your GPU workload performance:

  • Duty Cycle (container/accelerator/duty_cycle): Percentage of time over the past sample period (10 seconds) during which the accelerator was actively processing. Between 1 and 100.
  • Memory Usage (container/accelerator/memory_used): Amount of accelerator memory allocated in bytes.
  • Memory Capacity (container/accelerator/memory_total): Total accelerator memory in bytes.

You can use predefined dashboards to monitor your clusters with GPU nodes. For more information, see View observability metrics. For general information about monitoring your clusters and their resources, refer to Observability for GKE.

View usage metrics for workloads

You view your workload GPU usage metrics from the Workloads dashboard in the Google Cloud console.

To view your workload GPU usage, perform the following steps:

  1. Go to the Workloads page in the Google Cloud console.

    Go to Workloads
  2. Select a workload.

The Workloads dashboard displays charts for GPU memory usage and capacity, and GPU duty cycle.

View NVIDIA Data Center GPU Manager (DCGM) metrics

You can collect and visualize NVIDIA DCGM metrics by using Google Cloud Managed Service for Prometheus. For Autopilot clusters, GKE installs the drivers. For Standard clusters, you must install the NVIDIA drivers.

For instructions on how to deploy DCGM and the Prometheus DCGM exporter, see NVIDIA Data Center GPU Manager (DCGM) in the Google Cloud Observability documentation.

Handle disruption due to node maintenance

The GKE nodes that host the GPUs are subject to maintenance events or other disruptions that might cause node shutdown.

In GKE clusters with the control plane running version 1.29.1-gke.1425000 and later, you can reduce disruption to workloads by configuring GKE to terminate your workloads gracefully.

You can configure GKE to send a SIGTERM signal to Pods on nodes that are about to be shut down, allowing them a grace period to finish any ongoing work before eviction. In your Pod manifest's spec.terminationGracePeriodSeconds field, specify the number of seconds up to a maximum of 3600 seconds (one hour). GKE makes a best effort to terminate these Pods gracefully and to execute the termination action that you define, such as saving a training state.

GKE respects any configuration of up to 60 minutes for the PodDisruptionBudget or terminationGracePeriodSeconds settings. To learn more, including how those two settings interact, see Configure GPU node graceful termination.

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