MICROSOFT HAS announced it is working on a platform for instant AI, for when you need a response there and then.
Project Brainwave is a new hardware acceleration platform designed to make things like conversations with Cortana, and alerts from security devices that bit faster, up in the cloud.
Boasting a 39.5 teraflop machine learning brain with 1 millisecond of latency, it uses a 'soft neural network' powered by an Intel Stratix 10 field programmable gate array (FPGA).
Capable of handling Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit is all well and good, but in an unusually civil mood, Microsoft has made it work with any system, including Google Tensorflow, and other tools such as Caffe2 are 'on the roadmap'.
Microsoft has gone big. The FPGA chip they are using is significantly larger than 'convolutional' neural networks and the data requires no batching so it's even faster.
"We call it real-time AI because the idea here is that you send in a request, you want the answer back," said Doug Burger, a distinguished engineer with Microsoft Research, speaking to VentureBeat. "If it's a video stream, if it's a conversation, if it's looking for intruders, anomaly detection, all the things where you care about interaction and quick results, you want those in real time," he said.
Google launched an updated version of its Tensorflow processor earlier this year and capped it all by giving away a "hat" for Raspberry Pi that enabled Tensorflow capabilities as a magazine cover mount.
As for Microsoft, the team sees this as just the beginning for Project Brainstorm, and with further configuration of the software and the Intel Stratix 10, the system can be pushed to hit 90 teraflops - more than double its current throughput.
There's no official date for when this will be available to potential customers, nor how much it's going to cost, but needless to say the first place we're going to see it is snuggled up with Microsoft's Azure Cloud AI services. µ
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