IBM aligns with Nvidia to deliver deep learning enterprise performance on AlexNet with Caffe

IBM and Nvidia collaborated Monday on a new deep learning tool optimized for the latest IBM and Nvidia technologies to help train computers to think and learn in more human-like ways at a faster pace.

The deep learning software toolkit, currently available, called IBM PowerAI runs on the recently announced IBM server built for artificial intelligence that features Nvidia NVLink interconnect technology optimized for IBM’s Power architecture.

The hardware-software solution provides more than 2X performance over comparable servers with 4 GPUs running AlexNet with Caffe. The same 4-GPU Power-based configuration running Alexnet with BVLC Caffe can also outperform 8 M40 GPU-based x86 configurations, making it the quickest commercially available enterprise systems platform on two versions of a key deep learning framework.

Caffe is a widely-used deep learning framework developed by Berkeley Vision and Learning Center (BVLC) and is recognized within the technology industry as one of the most popular deep learning community applications.

Caffe is one of five deep learning software frameworks available in the IBM PowerAI toolkit. The toolkit leverages NVIDIA GPUDL libraries including cuDNN, cuBLAS and NCCL as part of NVIDIA SDKs to deliver multi-GPU acceleration on IBM servers.

Deep learning and other artificial intelligence capabilities are being used across a range of industry sectors; in banking to advance fraud detection through facial recognition; in automotive for self-driving automobiles and in retail for fully automated call centers with computers that can better understand speech and answer questions.

Deep learning is a fast growing machine learning method that extracts information by crunching through millions of pieces of data to detect and rank the most important aspects from the data. Publicly supported among consumer web and mobile application companies, deep learning is being adopted by traditional business enterprises.

IBM PowerAI is designed to run on IBM’s highest performing server in its OpenPOWER LC lineup, the IBM Power S822LC for High Performance Computing (HPC), which features the NVLink technology optimized for the Power architecture and NVIDIA’s latest GPU technology.

The new solution supports emerging computing methods of artificial intelligence, particularly deep learning. IBM PowerAI also provides a continued path for Watson, IBM’s cognitive solutions platform, to extend its artificial intelligence expertise in the enterprise by using several deep learning methods to train Watson.

“PowerAI democratizes deep learning and other advanced analytic technologies by giving enterprise data scientists and research scientists alike an easy to deploy platform to rapidly advance their journey on AI,” said Ken King, General Manager, OpenPOWER. “Coupled with our high performance computing servers built for AI, IBM provides what we believe is the best platform for enterprises building AI-based software, whether it’s chatbots for customer engagement, or real-time analysis of social media data.”

“Our innovation with IBM on NVIDIA NVLink has created new opportunities for POWER in the deep learning and analytics market,” said Ian Buck, VP and GM of Accelerated Computing Group. “NVIDIA’s GPUDL libraries in PowerAI will provide world class high-performance tools to power GPU-accelerated deep learning applications.”

IBM PowerAI is available at no charge to customers of IBM’s Power S822LC for HPC server. PowerAI is designed to run on a single S822LC server and also to scale to large scale supercomputing clusters consisting of dozens, hundreds or thousands of servers.


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