New IBM Power system delivers capabilities to handle artificial intelligence, machine learning workloads


IBM unveiled on Tuesday its next-generation Power Systems Servers incorporating its newly designed POWER9 processor. Built specifically for compute-intensive AI workloads, the new POWER9 systems are capable of improving the training times of deep learning frameworks by nearly four times allowing enterprises to build more accurate AI applications, faster.

IBM Power System Accelerated Compute Server (AC922) delivers unprecedented performance for modern HPC, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI). Enterprises can now deploy data-intensive workloads, like deep learning frameworks and accelerated databases, with confidence. AC922 enables the AI innovation data scientists’ desire, with the dependability IT requires. This is IT infrastructure redesigned for enterprise AI.

The POWER9-based AC922 Power Systems are the initial systems to embed PCI-Express 4.0, next-generation NVIDIA NVLink and OpenCAPI, which combined can accelerate data movement, calculated at 9.5 times faster than PCI-E 3.0 based x86 systems. The system was designed to drive demonstrable performance improvements across AI frameworks such as Chainer, TensorFlow and Caffe, as well as accelerated databases such as Kinetica.

As a result, data scientists can build applications faster, ranging from deep learning insights in scientific research, real-time fraud detection and credit risk analysis.

The AC922 pairs POWER9 CPUs and NVIDIA Tesla V100 with NVLink GPUs while delivering upto 5.6 times the performance for each pairing. This is the only server capable of delivering this I/O performance between CPUs and GPUs. This provides massive throughput capability for HPC, deep learning and AI workloads.

While blazingly fast on their own, POWER9 CPUs truly excel in their ability to fully the performance of everything around them. Built for the AI era, the Power 9 supports up to 5.6 times more I/O and 2 times more threads than its x86 contemporaries. The Power 9 is available on configurations with 16, 18, 20 and 22 cores, for up to 44 cores in the AC922 server.

Deep learning is a fast growing machine learning method that extracts information by crunching through millions of processes and data to detect and rank the most important aspects of the data.

To meet these growing industry demands, four years ago IBM set out to design the POWER9 chip on a blank sheet to build a new architecture to manage free-flowing data, streaming sensors and algorithms for data-intensive AI and deep learning workloads on Linux.

IBM provides enterprises with an infrastructure that incorporates cutting-edge hardware and software with the latest open-source innovations. With PowerAI, IBM has optimized and simplified the deployment of deep learning frameworks and libraries on the Power architecture with acceleration, allowing data scientists to be up and running in minutes.

IBM Research is developing a wide array of technologies for the Power architecture. IBM researchers have already cut deep learning times from days to hours with the PowerAI Distributed Deep Learning toolkit.

The era of AI demands more than tremendous processing power and unprecedented speed; it also demands an open ecosystem of innovative companies delivering technologies and tools. IBM serves as a catalyst for innovation to thrive, fueling an open, fast-growing community of more than 300 OpenPOWER Foundation and OpenCAPI Consortium members.

POWER9 is at the heart of the soon-to-be most powerful data-intensive supercomputers in the world, the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Summit”and “Sierra” supercomputers, and has been tapped by Google.

“Google is excited about IBM’s progress in the development of the latest POWER technology,” said Bart Sano, VP of Google Platforms “The POWER9 OpenCAPI Bus and large memory capabilities allow for further opportunities for innovation in Google data centers.”  

“We’ve built a game-changing powerhouse for AI and cognitive workloads,” said Bob Picciano, SVP of IBM Cognitive Systems. “In addition to arming the world’s most powerful supercomputers, IBM POWER9 Systems is designed to enable enterprises around the world to scale unprecedented insights, driving scientific discovery enabling transformational business outcomes across every industry.”

The AC922 also forms the backbone of the CORAL Summit supercomputer, on track to deliver 200+ PetaFlops of HPC and 3 ExaFlops of AI as a service performance. With its efficiency and ease of AI deployment, it’s ideal to address the organization’s AI aspirations.

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IoT Innovator

IoT Innovator