Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘supercomputing

The Supercomputing Summit

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Okay, let me be up front: I’m just back from a week’s vacation and my brain is mush.

But the neurons are slowly starting to refire.

NOT as fast, I might add, as IBM’s new supercomputer, Summit, which was built in partnership with the Oak Ridge National Lab and is now the world’s smartest and most powerful AI machine.

WIRED recently wrote up the new machine, and here are some noteworthy bits:

America hasn’t possessed the world’s most powerful supercomputer since June 2013, when a Chinese machine first claimed the title. Summit is expected to end that run when the official ranking of supercomputers, from an organization called Top500, is updated later this month

Summit, built by IBM, occupies floor space equivalent to two tennis courts, and slurps 4,000 gallons of water a minute around a circulatory system to cool its 37,000 processors. 

Oak Ridge says its new baby can deliver a peak performance of 200 quadrillion calculations per second (that’s 200 followed by 15 zeros) using a standard measure used to rate supercomputers, or 200 petaflops. That’s about a million times faster than a typical laptop, and nearly twice the peak performance of China’s top-ranking Sunway TaihuLight.

Summit has nearly 28,000 graphics processors made by Nvidia, alongside more than 9,000 conventional processors from IBM.

Summit will be used to help analyze a wide array of deep learning challenges ranging from astronomy to chemistry to biology and beyond.

Written by turbotodd

June 11, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Happy Anniversary, Deep Blue

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It was fifteen years ago today that the IBM chess-playing supercomputer, Deep Blue, beat he-who-shall-remain-nameless, a world grandmaster, after a six-game match, which brought two wins for IBM, one for the world champion, and three draws.

On May 11, 1997, an IBM computer called IBM Deep Blue beat the world chess champion after a six-game match: two wins for IBM, one for the champion and three draws. The match lasted several days and received massive media coverage around the world. It was the classic plot line of man vs. machine. Behind the contest, however, was important computer science, pushing forward the ability of computers to handle the kinds of complex calculations needed to take computing to the its next stage of evolution.

It was classic man-versus-machine, but underlying the mythology that enveloped the John Henry storyline was something far more important: The opportunity to push the frontiers of computer science, to push computers to handle the kind of complex calculations necessary for helping discover new pharmaceuticals; to conduct the kind of financial modeling needed to identify trends and do risk analysis; to perform the kinds of massive calculations needed in many fields of science.

Solving The Problem That Is Chess

Since artificial intelligence emerged as a concept along with the first real computers in the 1940s, computer scientists compared the performance of these “giant brains” with human minds, and many gravitated to chess as a way of testing the calculating abilities of computers. Chess is a game that represents a collection of challenging problems for minds and machines, but had simple rules, and was thus an excellent testbed for laying the groundwork for the “big data” era that was soon to come.

There’s but no question that Deep Blue was such a powerful computer programmed to solve the complex, strategic game of chess.  But IBM’s goal was far deeper: To enable researchers to discover and understand the limits and opportunities presented by massively parallel processing and high performance computing.

IBM Deep Blue: Analyzing 200 Million Chess Positions Per Second

If, in fact, Deep Blue could explore up to 200 million possible chess positions per second, then could this deep computing capability be used to help society handle the kinds of complex calculations required in some of these other aforementioned areas.

Deep Blue did, in fact, prove that industry could tackle these issues with smart algorithms and sufficient computational power.

I recalled earlier this year in a blog post my own experience witnessing the Deep Blue chess match.  It evoked a lot of nostalgia for me and so many others.

IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer could explore up to 200 million possible chess positions per second on 510 processors. Juxtapose that with IBM Blue Gene’s ability a few short years later to to routinely handle 478 trillion operations every second!

But it also laid a foundation, paving the way for new kinds of advanced computers and breakthroughs, including IBM’s Blue Gene and, later, IBM Watson.

Forever In Blue Genes

Blue Gene, introduced in 2004, demonstrated the next grand challenge in computing and was both the most powerful supercomputer and the most efficient, but was built to help biologists observe the invisible processes of protein folding and gene development. Deep Blue was also one of the earliest experiments in supercomputing that propelled IBM to become a market leader in this space to this day.

Fifteen years on, we’ve seen epic growth in the volume and variety of data being generated around the planet, via business, the social media, new sensor data helping with instrumentation of the physical world vis-a-vis IBM’s smarter planet initiative.  We’ve created so much new data that, in fact, 90% of the data in the world today was created in the last two years alone!

Calling Doctor Watson

Most recently, IBM embarked upon the next wave of this computing progress through the development of IBM’s Watson, which can hold the equivalent of about one million books worth of information. But make no mistake, Watson’s significance wasn’t just the amount of information it could process, but rather, a new generation of technology that uses algorithms to find answers in unstructured data more effectively than standard search technology, while also “understanding” natural language.

The promise of IBM Watson is now being put to productive use in industry — as an online tool to assist medical professionals in formulating diagnoses; by simplifying the banking experience by analyzing customer needs in the context of vast amounts of ever-changing financial , economic, product, and client data; and, I’m sure, other industries near you soon.

Those early chess matches were exciting, nail-biting even (and who’d have thought we’d ever say that about chess?)! But they pale by comparison to the productive work and problem-solving IBM’s Watson, and other IBM technologies, are now and will continue to be involved with as the world of big data matures and becomes adopted by an ever-increasing audience.

You can now visit Deep Blue, which ultimately was retired to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

But its groundbreaking contributions to artificial intelligence and computing in general continues, and now extends well beyond the confines of the chess board.

Big States (And Countries) Need Big Computers

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IBM’s been on a roll with the supercomputer situation of late.

Last week, we announced the installation of a Blue Gene supercomputer at Rutgers, and earlier today, we discovered that the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer is coming to my great home state of Texas.

Specifically, IBM announced a partnership with Houston’s Rice University to build the first award-winning IBM Blue Gene supercomputer in Texas.

Rice also announced a related collaboration agreement with the University of Sao Paul (USP) in Brazil to initiate the shared administration and use of the Blue Gene supercomputer, which allows both institutions to share the benefits of the new computing resource.

Rice University and IBM today announced a partnership to build the first award-winning IBM Blue Gene supercomputer in Texas. Rice also announced a related collaboration agreement with the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil to initiate the shared administration and use of the Blue Gene supercomputer, which allows both institutions to share the benefits of the new computing resource.

Now, you all play nice as you go about all that protein folding analysis!

Rice faculty indicated they would be using the Blue Gene to further their own research and to collaborate with academic and industry partners on a broad range of science and engineering questions related to energy, geophysics, basic life sciences, cancer research, personalized medicine and more.

“Collaboration and partnership have a unique place in Rice’s history as a pre-eminent research university, and it is fitting that Rice begins its second century with two innovative partnerships that highlight the university’s commitments to expanding our international reach, strengthening our research and building stronger ties with our home city,” said Rice President David Leebron about the deal.

USP is Brazil’s largest institution of higher education and research, and Rodas said the agreement represents an important bond between Rice and USP. “The joint utilization of the supercomputer by Rice University and USP, much more than a simple sharing of high-tech equipment, means the strength of an effective partnership between both universities,” explained USP President Joao Grandino Rodas.

Unlike the typical desktop or laptop computer, which have a single microprocessor, supercomputers typically contain thousands of processors. This makes them ideal for scientists who study complex problems, because jobs can be divided among all the processors and run in a matter of seconds rather than weeks or months.

Supercomputers are used to simulate things that cannot be reproduced in a laboratory — like Earth’s climate or the collision of galaxies — and to examine vast databases like those used to map underground oil reservoirs or to develop personalized medical treatments.

USP officials said they expect their faculty to use the supercomputer for research ranging from astronomy and weather prediction to particle physics and biotechnology.

In 2009, President Obama recognized IBM and its Blue Gene family of supercomputers with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the most prestigious award in the United States given to leading innovators for technological achievement.

Including the Blue Gene/P, Rice has partnered with IBM to launch three new supercomputers during the past two years that have more than quadrupled Rice’s high-performance computing capabilities.

The addition of the Blue Gene/P doubles the number of supercomputing CPU hours that Rice can offer. The six-rack system contains nearly 25,000 processor cores that are capable of conducting about 84 trillion mathematical computations each second. When fully operational, the system is expected to rank among the world’s 300 fastest supercomputers as measured by the TOP500 supercomputer rankings.

Written by turbotodd

March 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Innovate 2011 Conference: Profit From Software

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Happy Friday.

I’ve been too busy to keep track of all that’s going on at Big Blue this week, but I did notice some nows out of Warsaw that I thought worth sharing.

The Interdisciplinary Center for Mathematical and Computational Modeling at the University of Warsaw announced earlier this week they will be the first scientific center in Poland to use the IBM Blue Gene/P system.

This supercomputer will be used in scientific research and take on computationally intensive scientific problems described as “major challenges” in areas like meterology, cosmology, materials sciences, and neurominformatics.  You can learn more about this deal here.

I also wanted to plant a reminder before the weekend: Innovate 2011, IBM’s premier event for software and systems innovation, is just around the corner.

To be held June 5-9 in Orlando, Florida, Innovate 2011 is your opportunity for the good folks with IBM Rational to show how you can cut through the complexity of developing smarter products, systems, and software delivery.

You can visit here to get all the skinny on registration.  If you’re looking for those extra special reasons to convince your boss to let you out of the office for a few days, we’ve provided “Top 5 Reasons to Attend.”

Or, go visit the “Rational Talks to You” podcast series to hear from past participants on the topics you’ve told us matter most.

Even IEEE Fellow and UML co-creator, Grady Booch, is in on the action, joining this webcast (attendees for which get $300 off their Innovate 2011 registration) to give us a sneak preview of his Innovate 2011 keynote presentation about IBM’s Jeopardy! champion computer, Watson.

Remember, software is everywhere…but it’s especially at Innovate 2011!

Natural Language Processing For $500, Alex

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I recently provided a personal remembrance of the Kasparov v. Deep Blue chess matches of the late 1990s, the IBM “John Henry” contest between a Russian chess grandmaster and an IBM supercomputer.

At the end of the post, per the custom of American TV game show Jeopardy!,”I posed the answer with a question: “What is Watson?”

Here’s your expanded answer: Watson is a new supercomputer, named after founder Thomas J. Watson, and programmed once again by a set of IBM Researchers, this time to compete on the longstanding game show Jeopardy! against the show’s two most successful and celebrated contestants — Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

The first-ever man vs. machine Jeopardy! competition will air on February 14, 15 and 16, 2011, with two matches being played over three consecutive days.

Watson was built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to accomplish a grand challenge –- build a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.

The Jeopardy! format provides the ultimate challenge because the game’s clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.

Competing against Watson will be two of the most celebrated players ever to appear on Jeopardy! Ken Jennings broke the Jeopardy! record for the most consecutive games played by winning 74 games in a row during the 2004-2005 season, resulting in winnings of more than $2.5 million.

World-class Jeopardy! players Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter will test the mettle of IBM's Watson supercomputer in February 2011.

Brad Rutter won the highest cumulative amount ever by a single Jeopardy! player, earning $3,255,102. The total amount is a combination of Rutter’s original appearance in 2002, plus three Tournament wins:  the “Tournament of Champions” and the “Million Dollar Masters Tournament” in 2002 and the “Ultimate Tournament of Champions” in 2005.

Artificial Intelligence That Could Save Humanity For $300

The grand prize for this competition will be $1 million with second place earning $300,000 and third place $200,000. Rutter and Jennings will donate 50 percent of their winnings to charity and IBM will donate 100 percent of its winnings to charity.

“After four years, our scientific team believes that Watson is ready for this challenge based on its ability to rapidly comprehend what the Jeopardy! clue is asking, analyze the information it has access to, come up with precise answers, and develop an accurate confidence in its response,” said Dr. David Ferrucci, the scientist leading the IBM Research team that has created Watson.

Dr. David Dr. David Ferucci is the principal investigator and team lead for the DeepQA/Watson system that will be challenging the world-class Jeopardy! champions.

Beyond our excitement for the match itself, our team is very motivated by the possibilities that Watson’s breakthrough computing capabilities hold for building a smarter planet and helping people in their business tasks and personal lives.”

“We’re thrilled that Jeopardy! is considered a benchmark of ultimate knowledge,” said Harry Friedman, Executive Producer of Jeopardy!. “Performing well on Jeopardy! requires a combination of skills, and it will be fascinating to see whether a computer can compete against arguably the two best Jeopardy! players ever.”

Watson: Spars In More Than 50 Games To Prep For The Best

This past fall, Watson played more than 50 “sparring games” against former Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions contestants in final preparation for its television debut.

In addition, Watson has taken and passed the same Jeopardy! contestant test that humans take to qualify to play on the show, giving Jeopardy! producers confidence that the match will be both entertaining and competitive.

You can see highlights of those sparring matches here.

Real World Applications for Watson’s Technology

One of the criticisms that emanated during and after the Deep Blue chess matches was that IBM didn’t demonstrate the real-world applicability of the technology behind the chess moves.

This time around, IBM is working to answer more of those kinds of questions up front.

To be sure, beyond Jeopardy!, the technology behind Watson can be adapted to solve problems and drive progress in various fields (I’m already trying to understand how we could leverage it on our Web site!)

The Watson computer has the ability to sift through vast amounts of data and return precise answers, ranking its confidence in its answers. Such technology could be applied to a whole range of industries: healthcare, to more accurately diagnose patients based on empirical data; tech, to improve online health desks; tourism, to help provide tourists with information about cities; customer service, to improve prompting and directing customer support inquiries via phone and web…the list goes on.

Yes, But What Is Watson?

Watson is a breakthrough human achievement in the scientific field of Question and Answering, also known as “QA.” The Watson software is powered by an IBM POWER7 server optimized to handle the massive number of tasks that Watson must perform at rapid speeds to analyze complex language and deliver correct responses to Jeopardy! clues.

The system incorporates a number of proprietary technologies for the specialized demands of processing an enormous number of concurrent tasks and data while analyzing information in real time.

About Jeopardy!

Jeopardy!, the winner of 28 Emmy awards since its syndicated debut in 1984, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most awards won by a TV Game Show. The series is the #1-rated quiz show in syndication with nearly 9 million daily viewers. Jeopardy! is produced by Sony Pictures Television, a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company. It is distributed domestically by CBS Television Distribution and internationally by CBS Television International, both units of CBS Corp.

For more information about Jeopardy!, visit www.Jeopardy.com

To learn more about Watson and to view a video series about the DeepQA technology powering Watson, please visit www.ibmwatson.com.

You can also join the social discussion about Watson (be sure to include the hashtag #ibmwatson in your Tweets!)

If you want, you can also become Watson’s friend on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ibmwatson.

Even supercomputers need friends.

Written by turbotodd

December 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

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