Nvidia, Baidu Expand AI Partnership 

By Doug Black

July 5, 2017

Today at its developer conference in Beijing, Baidu announced a broadening of its AI partnership with Nvidia, including plans to bring Nvidia’s recently announced 120 TFLOPS Volta GPUs to Baidu Cloud and adoption of Nvidia’s DRIVE PX platform for Baidu’s newly named “Apollo” self-driving car strategy.

Although the companies did not disclose financial details, Nvidia stock jumped nearly 4 percent within hours of the announcement of the deal, which expands the Nividia’s entre to the vast potential of the Chinese market.

In addition, Baidu said it will optimize Baidu’s open source PaddlePaddle open source deep learning framework for Volta GPUs and bring AI capabilities to the Chinese consumer market by adding Baidu’s Duer OS voice-recognition AI system to Nvidia SHIELD TV.

“We see AI transforming every industry, and our strategy is to help democratize AI everywhere, in every cloud, in every AI framework, from the datacenter to the edge to the self-driving car,” said Ian Buck, Nvidia vice president and general manager of accelerated computing, in a pre-announcement press briefing.

Baidu also announced it will deploy in its datacenters Nvidia’s HGX reference architecture with Tesla Volta V100 and Tesla P4 GPU accelerators for AI training and inference. Combined with Baidu’s PaddlePaddle deep learning framework and Nvidia’s TensorRT deep learning inference software, “researchers and companies can harness state-of-the-art technology to develop products and services with real-time understanding of images, speech, text and video,” Nvidia said.

The availability of the Volta GPU architecture within the PaddlePaddle deep learning framework is aimed at supporting researchers and companies, along with Baidu, develop AI applications for search rankings, image classification services, real-time speech understanding, visual character recognition and other AI-powered services.

In announcing its selection of Nvidia’s DRIVE PX 2 AI supercomputer for its open source Apollo autonomous vehicle platform, Baidu said Apollo will also incorporate Tesla GPUs along with Nvidia CUDA and TensorRT software, adding that the self-driving car that Baidu showed recently at CES Asia was powered by DRIVE PX 2.

Several Chinese automakers today announced that they will join the Eco Partner Alliance of Apollo, including Changan, Chery Automobile, FAW, and Greatwall Motor.

In the Chinese AI home market, Baidu Duer OS, the company’s conversational AI system, will provide voice command capabilities to NVIDIA’s SHIELD TV for streaming video, gaming and smart home assistance. A version of the streamer, with custom software made for China, will be available later this year.

“NVIDIA and Baidu have pioneered significant advances in deep learning and AI,” said Buck. “We believe AI is the most powerful technology force of our time, with the potential to revolutionize every industry. Our collaboration aligns our exceptional technical resources to create AI computing platforms for all developers – from academic research, startups creating breakthrough AI applications, and autonomous vehicles.”

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in HPCwire’s sister publication EnterpriseTech.

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