IBM Touts AI Credentials Of New POWER9 Server

Doris Richards
December 7, 2017

IBM has revealed a new processing chip that can tackle the increasing demands of contemporary software using services such as artificial intelligence or machine learning. When these are combined IBM claims the new iron can accelerate data movement, calculated at 9.5x faster than PCI-E 3.0 based x86 systems.

IBM took a significant step in the increasingly competitive and fast-growing field of deep learning and artificial intelligence with the introduction December 5 of the first servers based on the Power9 processor and armed with an interconnect technology created to accelerate the movement of data between the IBM processor and GPUs from Nvidia. Now powerful chips and systems are needed to crunch the data as it comes in. This would in turn allow data scientists to build applications faster, stemming from deep learning insights in scientific research and real-time fraud detection. By 2018, 80 percent of data scientists will have access deep-learning capabilities. "It ultimately solves complex, data-rich business problems. It can also help improve the sight of visually impaired people, control self-driving vehicles or recognize and understand a specific person's speech".

IBM has pushed out a new Power chip, or as the company puts it, the "next generation in accelerated computing" has arrived. IBM has a prominent track record in this field; its distributed deep learning library announced in August already promises massive speed gains.

Apart from the chip, the company rolled out POWER9-based AC922 Power Systems servers that are much faster than previous servers.

Above IBM’s Power9
Above IBM’s Power9

The system was created to drive demonstrable performance improvements across popular AI frameworks such as Chainer, TensorFlow and Caffe, as well as accelerated databases such as Kinetica.

"We generally take our technology to market as a complete solution", said Brad McCredie, IBM fellow and vice president of cognitive systems. "In addition to arming the world's most powerful supercomputers, IBM Power9 Systems is created to enable enterprises around the world to scale unprecedented insights, driving scientific discovery enabling transformational business outcomes across every industry". POWER9 is likely to be commercially available by the end of the year. While there's a certain amount of bandwagon-jumping and overuse of the terms to grab headlines, machine-learning (et al) implementations are becoming quite the norm.

IBM's new chips are also being used in new supercomputers at the Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge national laboratories in the United States - known as "Sierra" and "Summit" respectively - which should be up and running early next year.

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