NVIDIA H100 PCIe vs. SXM5 Form Factors

Which GPU is right for your company?

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As artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to gain popularity, organizations across industries are investing in the latest and greatest GPU servers to enhance their AI and HPC capabilities. Determining which GPU is suitable for your workloads can be overwhelming, but a great starting point is NVIDIA's most popular data center GPU model, the H100. 

NVIDIA H100 PCIe vs. SXM5 Form Factors

When choosing the correct form factor for your NVIDIA H100 GPU, understanding the differences between PCIe and SXM5 can significantly impact your server's performance and scalability. Both form factors offer unique advantages, so let's dive into the details to help you make an informed decision.

H100 PCIe

The H100 PCIe form factor is a traditional GPU design that connects directly to the motherboard via PCIe slots. Sold individually or configured within servers with up to 8x GPUs, this form factor offers easy installation and flexibility, making it suitable for various server configurations. However, the PCIe interface can introduce latency and bandwidth limitations, impacting performance in highly demanding applications.  

NVIDIA H100 PCIE Form Factor
NVIDIA H100 PCIe Form Factor

H100 SXM5

On the other hand, the H100 SXM5 form factor is a more integrated solution that combines the GPU, memory, and other components into a single module featuring either 4x or 8x GPUs. This design reduces latency and improves bandwidth, resulting in higher performance for compute-intensive workloads. The SXM5 form factor also supports NVLink, NVSwitch, and InfiniBand Networking, enabling seamless integration into large server clusters for massive AI workloads.

NVIDIA H100 SXM5 Form Factor
NVIDIA H100 SXM5 Form Factor

Performance and Costs Comparison

The NVIDIA H100 GPU outperforms its predecessor, the A100, by up to 10x for AI workloads. The SXM5 GPU raises the bar considerably by supporting 80 GB of fast HBM3 memory, delivering over 3 TB/sec of memory bandwidth, effectively a 2x increase over the memory bandwidth of the A100, launched just two years prior. The PCIe H100 provides 80 GB of fast HBM2e with over 2 TB/sec of memory bandwidth.

In terms of performance, the H100 SXM5 form factor outshines the PCIe option thanks to its integrated design and support for advanced networking technologies. While the initial cost of SXM5 servers may be higher than PCIe-based systems, the long-term benefits in performance and scalability often outweigh the upfront investment.

Performance comparison of NVIDIA A100 and H100
Comparing H100 to A100

NVLink, NVSwitch, and InfiniBand Networking

NVLink and NVSwitch are advanced technologies that allow multiple GPUs to communicate directly with each other at high speeds, enabling efficient parallel processing in large server clusters. Exclusive to SXM, NVSwitch + InfiniBand Networking further enhances processing capabilities by providing high-speed interconnects between servers, allowing for seamless scalability and flexibility in AI workloads. Architecting an infrastructure solution featuring H100 SXM5 GPUs and InfiniBand Networking enables the creation of a data center-sized GPU, making it possible to solve even the most extensive AI jobs rapidly.

NVIDIA H100 PCIe with NVLink GPU-to-GPU connection + NVIDIA H100 SXM5 with NVSwitch NVLink-to-NVLink connection
NVIDIA H100 PCIe with NVLink GPU-to-GPU connection + NVIDIA H100 SXM5 with NVSwitch NVLink-to-NVLink connection

Industry Standard and Availability

It's worth noting that 8x H100 SXM5 systems are currently the industry standard for large organizations and AI startups, thanks to their superior performance and scalability. At Arc Compute, we offer industry-leading prices and lead times for H100 SXM5 HGX servers, ensuring you get the best value for your investment. We also help architect GPU infrastructure solutions from the ground up, enabling organizations new to GPU computing easy access to these powerful resources.

Arc Compute's Borealis 8xH100 HGX system - featuring 8x H100 SXM5 GPUs
Arc Compute's Borealis 8xH100 HGX system - featuring 8x H100 SXM5 GPUs


In conclusion, both H100 PCIe and SXM5 form factors have advantages and limitations. While PCIe offers flexibility and ease of installation, SXM5 provides superior performance and scalability, especially for large-scale AI workloads. At Arc Compute, we recommend considering the SXM5 form factor for your NVIDIA H100 GPUs, as it represents the current industry standard for performance and scalability. 

Contact us today at info@arccompute.io to learn more about our H100 HGX servers and how they can accelerate your AI workloads.

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