Google will soon launch a cloud computing service that provides exclusive access to a new kind of artificial intelligence chip designed by its own engineers. CEO Sundar Pichai revealed the new chip and service this morning in Silicon Valley during his keynote at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference.
This new processor is a unique creation designed to both train and execute deep neural networks—machine learning systems behind the rapid evolution of everything from image and speech recognition to automated translation to robotics. Google says it will not sell the chip directly to others. Instead, through its new cloud service, set to arrive sometime before the end of the year, any business or developer can build and operate software via the internet that taps into hundreds and perhaps thousands of these processors, all packed into Google data centers.
According to Dean, Google’s new “TPU device,” which spans four chips, can handle 180 trillion floating point operations per second, or 180 teraflops, and the company uses a new form of computer networking to connect several of these chips together, creating a “TPU pod” that provides about 11,500 teraflops of computing power. In the past, Dean said, the company’s machine translation model took about a day to train on 32 state-of-the-art CPU boards. Now, it can train in about six hours using only a portion of a pod.
Nvidia has released a new state-of-the-art chip that pushes the limits of machine learning, the Tesla P100 GPU. It can perform deep learning neural network tasks 12 times faster than the company’s previous top-end system (The TitanX). The P100 was a huge commitment for Nvidia, costing over $2 billion in research and development, and it sports a whopping 150 billion transistors on a single chip, making the P100 the world’s largest chip, Nvidia claims. In addition to machine learning, the P100 will work for all sorts of high-performance computing tasks — Nvidia just wants you to know it’s really good at machine learning.
To top off the P100’s introduction, Nvidia has packed eight of them into a crazy-powerful $129,000 supercomputer called the DGX-1. This show-horse of a machine comes ready to run, with deep-learning software preinstalled. It’s shipping first to AI researchers at MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and others in June. On stage, Huang called the DGX-1 “one beast of a machine.”
The competition between these upcoming AI chips and Nvidia all points to an emerging need for simply more processing power in deep learning computing. A few years ago, GPUs took off because they cut the training time for a deep learning network from months to days. Deep learning, which had been around since at least the 1950s, suddenly had real potential with GPU power behind it. But as more companies try to integrate deep learning into their products and services, they’re only going to need faster and faster chips.
(via Wired, Forbes, Nvidia, The Verge)