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!

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penalties to HPC applications. Even as these patches are rolled o Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Intel Touts Silicon Spin Qubits for Quantum Computing

February 14, 2018

Debate around what makes a good qubit and how best to manufacture them is a sprawling topic. There are many insistent voices favoring one or another approach. Referencing a paper published today in Nature, Intel has offe Read more…

By John Russell

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Safeguard Your HPC Environment with the World’s Most Secure Industry Standard Servers

Today’s organizations operate in an environment with ever-evolving threats, and in order to protect themselves they must continuously bolster their security strategy. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Intel® are addressing modern security challenges with the world’s most secure industry standard servers powered by the latest generation of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. Read more…

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended to make it easier, faster and cheaper to train and run machi Read more…

By Doug Black

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penal Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Food Industry’s Next Journey — from Mars to Exascale

February 12, 2018

Global food producer and one of the world's leading chocolate companies Mars Inc. has a unique perspective on the impact that exascale computing will have on the food industry. Read more…

By Scott Gibson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Singularity HPC Container Start-Up – Sylabs – Emerges from Stealth

February 8, 2018

The driving force behind Singularity, the popular HPC container technology, is bringing the open source platform to the enterprise with the launch of a new vent Read more…

By George Leopold

Dell EMC Debuts PowerEdge Servers with AMD EPYC Chips

February 6, 2018

AMD notched another EPYC processor win today with Dell EMC’s introduction of three PowerEdge servers (R6415, R7415, and R7425) based on the EPYC 7000-series p Read more…

By John Russell

‘Next Generation’ Universe Simulation Is Most Advanced Yet

February 5, 2018

The research group that gave us the most detailed time-lapse simulation of the universe’s evolution in 2014, spanning 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution, is back in the spotlight with an even more advanced cosmological model that is providing new insights into how black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed, and where magnetic fields originate. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and 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

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

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

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

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

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

2017 Gordon Bell Prize Finalists Named

October 23, 2017

The three finalists for this year’s Gordon Bell Prize in High Performance Computing have been announced. They include two papers on projects run on China’s Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This