Dissecting the NVidia Turing T4 GPU via Microbenchmarking

Zhe Jia, Marco Maggioni, Jeffrey Smith, Daniele Paolo Scarpazza
High Performance Computing R&D Team Citadel, 131 S. Dearborn St., Chicago
arXiv:1903.07486 [cs.DC], (18 Mar 2019)


   title={Dissecting the NVidia Turing T4 GPU via Microbenchmarking},

   author={Jia, Zhe and Maggioni, Marco and Smith, Jeffrey and Scarpazza, Daniele Paolo},



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In 2019, the rapid rate at which GPU manufacturers refresh their designs, coupled with their reluctance to disclose microarchitectural details, is still a hurdle for those software designers who want to extract the highest possible performance. Last year, these very reasons motivated us to dissect the Volta GPU architecture using microbenchmarks. The introduction in August 2018 of Turing, NVidia’s latest architecture, pressed us to update our study. In this report, we examine Turing and compare it quantitatively against previous NVidia GPU generations. Specifically, we study the T4 GPU: a low-power board aiming at inference applications. We describe its improvements against its inference-oriented predecessor: the P4 GPU based on the Pascal architecture. Both T4 and P4 GPUs achieve significantly higher frequency-per-Watt figures than their full-size counterparts. We study the performance of the T4’s TensorCores, finding a much higher throughput on low-precision operands than on the P4 GPU. We reveal that Turing introduces new instructions that express matrix math more succinctly. We map Turing’s instruction space, finding the same encoding as Volta, and additional instructions. We reveal that the Turing TU104 chip has the same memory hierarchy depth as the Volta GV100; cache levels sizes on the TU104 are frequently twice as large as those found on the Pascal GP104. We benchmark each constituent of the T4 memory hierarchy and find substantial overall performance improvements over its P4 predecessor. We studied how clock throttling affects compute-intensive workloads that hit power or thermal limits. Many of our findings are novel, published here for the first time. All of them can guide high-performance software developers get closer to the GPU’s peak performance.
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