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Who is developing AI supercomputers?

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) supercomputers, the powerhouse behind numerous cutting-edge technologies, are undergoing continuous development and refinement by leading companies and organizations globally. These firms, including Nvidia, Intel, AMD, Google, IBM, Microsoft, AWS Inferentia, and Facebook AI Research (FAIR), are working diligently to advance this transformative technology.

Giants in the AI Supercomputer Space

  • Nvidia, renowned for manufacturing graphics processing units (GPUs) utilized in AI supercomputers, offers DGX systems—among the most potent AI supercomputers available. Intel, a significant CPU manufacturer, contributes to the AI supercomputer industry through its Cascade Lake and Sapphire Rapids processors, tailored for AI workloads.

  • AMD is also forging its path in AI supercomputer development, utilizing its EPYC processors—designed for high-performance computing (HPC) and AI workloads.

  • Google is also engaged in the AI supercomputer landscape, developing systems for its own use and its partners, using its AI-centric TPUs (Tensor Processing Units).

  • IBM, a longstanding player in the HPC arena, offers Power9 processors, designed explicitly for HPC and AI workloads, contributing to AI supercomputers' development.

  • Microsoft, as one of the dominant firms, deploys AI supercomputers for the Azure HBv3 series of virtual machines that leverage second-generation AMD EPYC processors and Nvidia A100 GPUs. In 2018, Microsoft announced a partnership with OpenAI to construct a supercomputer named Turing, specifically designed to train large language models, positioning it among the world's most powerful AI supercomputers.

  • AWS Inferentia, a custom-designed processor, specifically engineered for machine learning inference, caters to diverse applications including speech recognition, image recognition, and natural language processing.

  • FAIR has a significant role in building and deploying large-scale AI systems for tasks such as natural language processing, computer vision, and machine learning.

Comparative Factors for AI Supercomputers

The evaluation of AI supercomputers typically involves a comparison across several factors. These include:

  • Performance: Typically measured in FLOPS (floating-point operations per second), where a higher FLOPS rating indicates a faster supercomputer.

  • Price: AI supercomputers can be costly, ranging from millions to billions of dollars.

  • Energy efficiency: Given the substantial power consumption of AI supercomputers, their energy efficiency should be seriously considered before purchase.

  • Ease of use: The complexity involved in setting up and using AI supercomputers makes the system's user-friendliness an important consideration.

The optimal choice of an AI supercomputer varies depending on specific needs and budget. Users seeking the fastest supercomputers should prepare for substantial financial investment. However, there are many powerful AI supercomputers available within a tighter budget.

The Future of AI Supercomputers

Although still in the early stages of development, AI supercomputers bear tremendous potential to revolutionize various aspects of our life and work. Their applications range from drug discovery, the creation of self-driving cars, to the design of new cities. As these AI supercomputers become increasingly potent and affordable, their impact on our world is expected to be more profound and ubiquitous.

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