IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

By John Russell

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. It’s another step in IBM efforts to lay claim to leadership in the nascent deep learning market. Offering supported distributions of popular frameworks, said Sumit Gupta, IBM vice president, High Performance Computing and Analytics, is a natural next step in expanding and commercializing deep learning use.

“What we did with PowerAI is create a software distribution for deep learning and machine learning. The insight to do that came from the Linux world. Most enterprise clients don’t go to Linux.org to get their Linux, they go to Red Hat or SUSE,” said Gupta. “Today deep learning is completely an open source community with users going to TensorFlow.org or Caffe.org etc. to download software. But we have clients saying they would prefer to get a supported distribution. So we created PowerAI, a pre-curated, pre-bundled binary that has all the deep learning frameworks. The problems we’re solving are that downloading and installing these frameworks is hard. TensorFlow, for example, depends on a 100 different packages.”

“I want to emphasize that in a sense we have become the Red Hat of deep learning. As Red Hat is to Linux, IBM PowerAI is to deep learning.”

TensorFlow, of course, was originally created by Google and then put into the open source community. “TensorFlow is quickly becoming a viable option for companies interested in deploying deep learning for tasks ranging from computer vision, to speech recognition, to text analytics,” said Rajat Monga, engineering leader for TensorFlow. “IBM’s enterprise offering of TensorFlow will help organizations deploy this framework — we’re glad to see this support.”

According to  the IBM release, “IBM Technology Support Services will build upon its hardware support services by investing and launching a new innovative enterprise software support offering for the PowerAI stack for a competitive advantage. Further, IBM Global Business Solutions established a deep learning design and development team as part of its Cognitive Business Solutions practice to help build solutions on the PowerAI platform, while making use of popular frameworks such as TensorFlow.”

“Every enterprise is looking at emerging artificial intelligence methods to take advantage of the data they now have access to,” said Ken King, IBM general manager for OpenPOWER. “Our PowerAI software offering curates packages and provides enterprise-level support for the major deep learning frameworks like TensorFlow, to enable enterprises to easily use these new AI methods to build new computer models for analyzing their data.”

Selling Power-based servers is also a big goal. In September, IBM introduced several new Power8-based machines, including the Minsky platform that has the Power8+ chip and NVLink for communication with NVIDIA’s P100 GPUs. PowerAI has been optimized for Minsky and Gupta said TensorFlow, for example, “runs 30% faster* on Minsky (Power System S822LC for HPC) compared to an x86 system with PCIe GPUs, so we have shown the value of NVLink between the CPU and GPU (details of the systems compared with below).”

Gupta characterized TensorFlow as becoming one of the most popular DL framework in the U.S. while Chainer is the most popular in Japan. The PowerAI suite now includes CAFFE, Chainer, TensorFlow, Theano, Torch, cuDNN, NVIDIA DIGITS, and several other machine and deep learning frameworks and libraries. The IBM PowerAI roadmap includes addition of supported versions of the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (previously called CNTK) and Amazon’s MXNet, said Gupta.

The newest edition of the PowerAI software is available now for download. It will also be available on the HPC specialist Nimbix cloud which offers high-end Minsky machines with NVLink and P100 GPUs. Gupta said Nimbix already has “a lot of customers right now are using the Minsky cloud that they put up a few months ago.”

Market traction for the Minsky platform, said Gupta, has been especially strong although he declined to offer numbers or identify major wins.

*Details behind the 30% advantage supplied by IBM:

Achieved 30% more Images/sec on TensorFlow 0.12 training when compared to a system with four NVIDIA Tesla P100s attached through conventional PCIe when running the Inception v3 model, a popular image recognition framework.

Results are based on IBM Internal Measurements running TensorFlow 0.12 (model: Inception v3, dataset: ImageNet2012) training for 500 iterations.

Power System S822LC for HPC: 20 cores (2 x 10c chips), POWER8; 3.95GHz (peak); 512GB RAM; 4x Nvidia Tesla (NVLink) P100 GPU; Ubuntu 16.04, TensorFlow 0.12.0

Competitive System: E5-2640v4; 20 cores (2 x 10c chips), Broadwell; 3.4Ghz; 512GB RAM; 4x Nvidia Tesla P100 (PCIe) GPU; Ubuntu 16.04, TensorFlow 0.12.1

Related Links

IBM Launches PowerAI Suite Optimized for its Highest Performing Server

IBM Debuts Power8 Chip with NVLink and Three New Systems

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be carefully woven together by people to create the computational c Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit and Sierra. The new AC922 server pairs two Power9 CPUs with f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

PEZY President Arrested, Charged with Fraud

December 6, 2017

The head of Japanese supercomputing firm PEZY Computing was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of defrauding a government institution of 431 million yen (~$3.8 million). According to reports in the Japanese press, PEZY founde Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Explore the Origins of Space with COSMOS and Memory-Driven Computing

From the formation of black holes to the origins of space, data is the key to unlocking the secrets of the early universe. Read more…

Azure Debuts AMD EPYC Instances for Storage Optimized Workloads

December 5, 2017

AMD’s return to the data center received a boost today when Microsoft Azure announced introduction of instances based on AMD’s EPYC microprocessors. The new instances – Lv2-Series of Virtual Machine – use the EPY Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be care Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft Spins Cycle Computing into Core Azure Product

December 5, 2017

Last August, cloud giant Microsoft acquired HPC cloud orchestration pioneer Cycle Computing. Since then the focus has been on integrating Cycle’s organization Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE In-Memory Platform Comes to COSMOS

November 30, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is on a mission to accelerate space research. In August, it sent the first commercial-off-the-shelf HPC system into space for testing Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC17 Cluster Competition: Who Won and Why? Results Analyzed and Over-Analyzed

November 28, 2017

Everyone by now knows that Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) took home the highest LINPACK Award and the Overall Championship from the recently concluded SC17 Student Cluster Competition. We also already know how the teams did in the Highest LINPACK and Highest HPCG competitions, with Nanyang grabbing bragging rights for both benchmarks. Read more…

By Dan Olds

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

SC Bids Farewell to Denver, Heads to Dallas for 30th Anniversary

November 17, 2017

After a jam-packed four-day expo and intensive six-day technical program, SC17 has wrapped up another successful event that brought together nearly 13,000 visit Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Share This