At ASF 2019: The Virtuous Circle of Big Data, AI and HPC

By Alex Woodie with Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

April 18, 2019

We’ve entered a new phase in IT — in the world, really — where the combination of big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing is pushing the bounds of what’s possible in business and science, in work and play. What new creations this virtuous circle will yield has yet to be seen, but if what we’ve seen up to this point is any indication, it’s bound to impress.

When viewed as independent fields, you can see real gains made in big data management, AI, and HPC. It’s fair to say that each discipline is on its own upward trajectory. Each has its own challenges and its own roadmap for overcoming those challenges to bring success to their practitioners.

But when you view those three fields as a cohesive whole, one gets the sense that something much bigger is under foot. If technology is subject to evolutionary forces and moves forward in an evolutionary manner, it seems like we’re about to enter a period of punctuated equilibrium, driven by the collective power of those three engineers.

Together Tabor Communications Inc. CEO Tom Tabor, the three managing editors of TCI publications, including Alex Woodie of Datanami, Doug Black of EnterpriseAI, and Tiffany Trader of HPCwire, explored the virtuous cycle of big data, AI, and HPC this week during a panel discussion at Advanced Scale Forum, TCI’s annual event.

Here is an edited version of the editor’s discussion with Tabor:

  1. Big Data: The Feedstock of AI

Since the dawn of time, data management has posed a challenge to mankind. From oral histories and cave paintings to handwritten scrolls and Guttenberg’s printing press, we’ve always maxed out our data storage capabilities and run into I/O bottlenecks.

The creation of the World Wide Web 30 years supercharged the data management opportunity, as well as the challenge. By interconnecting the lives of 4 billion people through PCs, smart phones, and social media, we’ve witnessed a classic “network effect” unfold, fueling an exponential growth of data that’s expected to top 40 zettabytes by 2022.

Every minute of every day, Snapshat users share half a million photos, half a million Tweets are sent, half a million Facebook comments are lodged, and 4.1 million YouTube users are watching a video. Every minute, there are 16M text messages, 156 million emails — about two-thirds of which are spam (the rest, presumably, involve cat videos).

The problem, of course, is managing all this data, about 70% to 80% of which is unstructured, is hard. Before we can do fancy analytics, machine learning, or AI upon it, the data must be brought under control, protected, governed, cleansed, cataloged, and tracked.

This is the big data problem, and it’s why only a handful of companies have managed to find terminal velocity with their big data efforts. The difficult of managing big data is what Ali Ghodsi, the CEO of Databricks and one of the early developers of Apache Spark, called “AI’s 1% problem.”

There are a number of ways people are working to solve the data management problem. Things like data fabrics, data catalogs, federated databases, and tools for building repeatable data pipelines, will all be part of the solution. But the fact remains that there’s no silver bullet for data management. One must get in there, get dirty, and find what works to solve one’s own data challenges.

But once you wrangle the data, the potential benefits of AI are enormous.

  1. AI’s Enormous Potential

In many ways, the hype over big data has shifted to artificial intelligence, which has become the driving force behind many organization’s data collection and data monetization efforts.

IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty recently commented that the enterprise opportunity around AI is revolving around several dimensions as AI evolves from its first chapter, characterized by departmental level, PoC “random acts of digital” to chapter two: enterprise-wide AI. It will involve scaling AI, embedding it everywhere in the business, in a hybrid fashion that spans on-prem and cloud infrastructures, including infusing it into mission-critical applications.

A big challenge around AI, however, involves how to take AI from the prototype phase into production. IBM’s advice boils down to “think big, start small, and move fast.” As one department finds success with AI, confidence will build, and pretty soon, more departments will gravitate to the technology, and even the C suite will get behind it.

Another piece of advice for scaling AI comes from Ed Abbo, who is president and CIO at C3, which has implemented some of the largest AI applications outside of Silicon Valley. There are three main ingredients, Abbo said, including

  • Automated data management, meaning ingestion, aggregation and cleansing of data from the hundreds, even thousands, of systems across the enterprise to derive a holistic view of company operations and customer behavior;
  • Rapid testing and deployment of pre-built AI models, which significantly accelerate the work of data scientists;
  • Scalability, via public and private clouds and distributed computing techniques, which enables the company to spin up and shut down cloud resources as machine learning inferencing is needed on fluctuating volumes of incoming sensor data.

“Unless you’ve got all three elements,” Abbo says, “you’re still in the prototype world.”

  1. HPC’s Necessary Boost

Despite the progress we’ve made through the “big data boom” and the current “hype rocket” that’s taking off around AI, the dirty little secret in the industry is that less than 2% of the world’s data is being utilized for analysis. If we’re going to push the needle past 2%, it’s going to take a lot of horsepower. Whether it’s scale-up capability supercomputing for the DOE or some variant of scale out – in the datacenter, in the cloud, at the edge, in our phones, our space shuttles, boats and cars — organizations will require massive amounts of compute.

Satisfying this need has resulted in a growing ecosystem of speedy interconnects, new storage technologies, and specialized processors (think GPUs, TPUs, FPGAs, and whatever else is coming down the pike).

Machine learning’s potential has been unlocked by the rise of big data and the availability of compute. This is the virtuous circle — the connection between big data, AI, and HPC — and it’s really at its infancy. The “virtuousness” of the cycle has been explained well by Andrew Ng of Landing AI, where better data creates new and better products, which in turn attracts more users, which yields even more insights. It’s a cycle that is undergirded by fast compute for training the models and for deploying them in the field for inferencing.

With so much hype circling about AI, big data, and emerging “edge to core” computing paradigms, it’s important to remind ourselves not to get too far over our skis. Nobody wants to repeat the “AI winter” mistakes of the past, or break out jars of Hadoop to smear about like some cure-all, as Intersect360 Research’s Addison Snell pointed out during his ASF panel.

With that in mind, it’s also worth reminding ourselves of Amara’s Law, which speaks about the difficulty of forecasting the effects of technology. The law states that we tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

The virtuous cycle of big data, AI, and HPC, use of which is mostly confined to the upper reaches of enterprise and the FAANG companies, has already yielded amazing gems (NLP, image and facial recognition, etc.) that have impacted the business world and the public domain. And when taking the long view, the odds look quite favorable that this cycle — which really is the essence and the epitome of human achievement as it pertains to information, software, data, and hardware — will evolve and proliferate to drive the state of the art and expand the realm of the possible for decades to come.

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!

IBM Quantum Summit: Osprey Flies; Error Handling Progress; Quantum-centric Supercomputing

December 1, 2022

Part scorecard, part grand vision, IBM’s annual Quantum Summit held last month is a fascinating snapshot of IBM’s progress, evolving technology roadmap, and issues facing the quantum landscape broadly. Thankfully, IB Read more…

AWS Introduces a Flurry of New EC2 Instances at re:Invent

November 30, 2022

AWS has announced three new Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances powered by AWS-designed chips, as well as several new Intel-powered instances – including ones targeting HPC – at its AWS re:Invent 2022 Read more…

Quantum Riches and Hardware Diversity Are Discouraging Collaboration

November 28, 2022

Quantum computing is viewed as a technology for generations, and the spoils for the winners are huge, but the diversity of technology is discouraging collaboration, an Intel executive said last week. There are close t Read more…

2022 Road Trip: NASA Ames Takes Off

November 25, 2022

I left Dallas very early Friday morning after the conclusion of SC22. I had a race with the devil to get from Dallas to Mountain View, Calif., by Sunday. According to Google Maps, this 1,957 mile jaunt would be the longe Read more…

2022 Road Trip: Sandia Brain Trust Sounds Off

November 24, 2022

As the 2022 Great American Supercomputing Road Trip carries on, it’s Sandia’s turn. It was a bright sunny day when I rolled into Albuquerque after a high-speed run from Los Alamos National Laboratory. My interview su Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 110419589

Thank you for visiting AWS at SC22

Accelerate high performance computing (HPC) solutions with AWS. We make extreme-scale compute possible so that you can solve some of the world’s toughest environmental, social, health, and scientific challenges. Read more…

 

shutterstock_1431394361

AI and the need for purpose-built cloud infrastructure

Modern AI solutions augment human understanding, preferences, intent, and even spoken language. AI improves our knowledge and understanding by delivering faster, more informed insights that fuel transformation beyond anything previously imagined. Read more…

2022 HPC Road Trip: Los Alamos

November 23, 2022

With SC22 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get back to the 2022 Great American Supercomputing Road Trip. To refresh everyone’s memory, I jumped in the car on November 3rd and headed towards SC22 in Dallas, stoppi Read more…

IBM Quantum Summit: Osprey Flies; Error Handling Progress; Quantum-centric Supercomputing

December 1, 2022

Part scorecard, part grand vision, IBM’s annual Quantum Summit held last month is a fascinating snapshot of IBM’s progress, evolving technology roadmap, and Read more…

AWS Introduces a Flurry of New EC2 Instances at re:Invent

November 30, 2022

AWS has announced three new Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances powered by AWS-designed chips, as well as several new Intel-powered instances Read more…

Quantum Riches and Hardware Diversity Are Discouraging Collaboration

November 28, 2022

Quantum computing is viewed as a technology for generations, and the spoils for the winners are huge, but the diversity of technology is discouraging collaborat Read more…

2022 HPC Road Trip: Los Alamos

November 23, 2022

With SC22 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get back to the 2022 Great American Supercomputing Road Trip. To refresh everyone’s memory, I jumped in the c Read more…

QuEra’s Quest: Build a Flexible Neutral Atom-based Quantum Computer

November 23, 2022

Last month, QuEra Computing began providing access to its 256-qubit, neutral atom-based quantum system, Aquila, from Amazon Braket. Founded in 2018, and built o Read more…

SC22’s ‘HPC Accelerates’ Plenary Stresses Need for Collaboration

November 21, 2022

Every year, SC has a theme. For SC22 – held last week in Dallas – it was “HPC Accelerates”: a theme that conference chair Candace Culhane said reflected Read more…

Quantum – Are We There (or Close) Yet? No, Says the Panel

November 19, 2022

For all of its politeness, a fascinating panel on the last day of SC22 – Quantum Computing: A Future for HPC Acceleration? – mostly served to illustrate the Read more…

RISC-V Is Far from Being an Alternative to x86 and Arm in HPC

November 18, 2022

One of the original RISC-V designers this week boldly predicted that the open architecture will surpass rival chip architectures in performance. "The prediction is two or three years we'll be surpassing your architectures and available performance with... Read more…

Nvidia Shuts Out RISC-V Software Support for GPUs 

September 23, 2022

Nvidia is not interested in bringing software support to its GPUs for the RISC-V architecture despite being an early adopter of the open-source technology in its GPU controllers. Nvidia has no plans to add RISC-V support for CUDA, which is the proprietary GPU software platform, a company representative... Read more…

RISC-V Is Far from Being an Alternative to x86 and Arm in HPC

November 18, 2022

One of the original RISC-V designers this week boldly predicted that the open architecture will surpass rival chip architectures in performance. "The prediction is two or three years we'll be surpassing your architectures and available performance with... Read more…

AWS Takes the Short and Long View of Quantum Computing

August 30, 2022

It is perhaps not surprising that the big cloud providers – a poor term really – have jumped into quantum computing. Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google, and th Read more…

Chinese Startup Biren Details BR100 GPU

August 22, 2022

Amid the high-performance GPU turf tussle between AMD and Nvidia (and soon, Intel), a new, China-based player is emerging: Biren Technology, founded in 2019 and headquartered in Shanghai. At Hot Chips 34, Biren co-founder and president Lingjie Xu and Biren CTO Mike Hong took the (virtual) stage to detail the company’s inaugural product: the Biren BR100 general-purpose GPU (GPGPU). “It is my honor to present... Read more…

AMD Thrives in Servers amid Intel Restructuring, Layoffs

November 12, 2022

Chipmakers regularly indulge in a game of brinkmanship, with an example being Intel and AMD trying to upstage one another with server chip launches this week. But each of those companies are in different positions, with AMD playing its traditional role of a scrappy underdog trying to unseat the behemoth Intel... Read more…

Tesla Bulks Up Its GPU-Powered AI Super – Is Dojo Next?

August 16, 2022

Tesla has revealed that its biggest in-house AI supercomputer – which we wrote about last year – now has a total of 7,360 A100 GPUs, a nearly 28 percent uplift from its previous total of 5,760 GPUs. That’s enough GPU oomph for a top seven spot on the Top500, although the tech company best known for its electric vehicles has not publicly benchmarked the system. If it had, it would... Read more…

JPMorgan Chase Bets Big on Quantum Computing

October 12, 2022

Most talk about quantum computing today, at least in HPC circles, focuses on advancing technology and the hurdles that remain. There are plenty of the latter. F Read more…

Using Exascale Supercomputers to Make Clean Fusion Energy Possible

September 2, 2022

Fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the Sun and the stars, has incredible potential as a source of safe, carbon-free and essentially limitless energy. But Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

UCIe Consortium Incorporates, Nvidia and Alibaba Round Out Board

August 2, 2022

The Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) consortium is moving ahead with its effort to standardize a universal interconnect at the package level. The c Read more…

Nvidia, Qualcomm Shine in MLPerf Inference; Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Makes an Appearance.

September 8, 2022

The steady maturation of MLCommons/MLPerf as an AI benchmarking tool was apparent in today’s release of MLPerf v2.1 Inference results. Twenty-one organization Read more…

SC22 Unveils ACM Gordon Bell Prize Finalists

August 12, 2022

Courtesy of the schedule for the SC22 conference, we now have our first glimpse at the finalists for this year’s coveted Gordon Bell Prize. The Gordon Bell Pr Read more…

Not Just Cash for Chips – The New Chips and Science Act Boosts NSF, DOE, NIST

August 3, 2022

After two-plus years of contentious debate, several different names, and final passage by the House (243-187) and Senate (64-33) last week, the Chips and Science Act will soon become law. Besides the $54.2 billion provided to boost US-based chip manufacturing, the act reshapes US science policy in meaningful ways. NSF’s proposed budget... Read more…

Intel Is Opening up Its Chip Factories to Academia

October 6, 2022

Intel is opening up its fabs for academic institutions so researchers can get their hands on physical versions of its chips, with the end goal of boosting semic Read more…

AMD’s Genoa CPUs Offer Up to 96 5nm Cores Across 12 Chiplets

November 10, 2022

AMD’s fourth-generation Epyc processor line has arrived, starting with the “general-purpose” architecture, called “Genoa,” the successor to third-gen Eypc Milan, which debuted in March of last year. At a launch event held today in San Francisco, AMD announced the general availability of the latest Epyc CPUs with up to 96 TSMC 5nm Zen 4 cores... Read more…

AMD Previews 400 Gig Adaptive SmartNIC SOC at Hot Chips

August 24, 2022

Fresh from finalizing its acquisitions of FPGA provider Xilinx (Feb. 2022) and DPU provider Pensando (May 2022) ), AMD previewed what it calls a 400 Gig Adaptive smartNIC SOC yesterday at Hot Chips. It is another contender in the increasingly crowded and blurry smartNIC/DPU space where distinguishing between the two isn’t always easy. The motivation for these device types... Read more…

Google Program to Free Chips Boosts University Semiconductor Design

August 11, 2022

A Google-led program to design and manufacture chips for free is becoming popular among researchers and computer enthusiasts. The search giant's open silicon program is providing the tools for anyone to design chips, which then get manufactured. Google foots the entire bill, from a chip's conception to delivery of the final product in a user's hand. Google's... Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire