Big Blue Touts Partnership with NVIDIA at IBM Think

by Christina Olmsted

Emphasizing the key role GPUs will play as businesses race to turn raw data into intelligence, IBM invited NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang to appear on stage Tuesday at its massive Think conference, in Las Vegas.

Using GPUs, IBM is able to use fewer machines to harness data 46x faster on a key benchmark, John Kelly, IBM’s senior vice president of cognitive solutions and IBM Research, said at the gathering of more than 40,000 technologists, consultants, developers and business leaders.

“We’ve chosen a great partner, NVIDIA, to be our partner to accelerate artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Kelly said. “It’s a very successful company, and a world leader in artificial intelligence with their GPUs.”

Speaking a week before his keynote address at NVIDIA’s annual GPU Technology Conference, in Silicon Valley, Huang said companies are racing to train a new generation of AI applications that will give them unmatched capabilities.

“I believe every company in the world will have high-performance computers or supercomputers inside,” Huang said. “Instead of engineers doing coding, you will have supercomputers learning, and whoever learns the fastest will get to market soonest.”

Fewer Machines, Faster Results

Ahead of Huang’s appearance, IBM announced that a team at its Zurich research lab tapped IBM’s POWER9 with NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs, and advanced NVLink high-speed interconnect technology, to beat a key performance benchmark for a machine learning workload by 46x.

Not only did it accomplish the feat far faster, but it did so using fewer machines than the previous record holder.

The team used a terabyte-scale dataset to predict clicks on advertisements in 91.5 seconds, compared to the previous record of 70 minutes, set in February of last year.

This kind kind of “logistic regression” analysis is a key tool of the trade for machine learning professionals.

And more is coming, Kelly explained. He argued that machine learning will transform industries as diverse as retail, oil and gas discovery, automobiles, shipping and health care.

“I cannot think of a single industry that is not only going to be not only impacted, but completely transformed,” Kelly said.