Infrastructure Designed for Cognitive Workloads: Why is it crucial?

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Xavier Vasques

Systems Hardware Technical Leader
IBM Systems Hardware
Research Publications: 89
Articles: 40
Books: 3
Patents: 1
Connect with Xavier: LinkedIN, Twitter, ResearchGate

The expression artificial intelligence (AI) appeared in 1956 with the objective to build systems to think and act as humans. Machine Learning (ML) came in the seventies with a more pragmatic and humble approach, with algorithms able to accumulate knowledge and intelligence based on experiences, and guided via their own learning, rather than explicitly programmed. But the technology’s growth was hampered due to a lack of data and computing power.

Today, data transforms industries and professions. When we look at cognitive algorithms, there is a classical loop starting with learning, transmitting and improving what needs to improve. AI can learn from expertise and existent knowledge such as books, images, videos or scientific papers.

And data is hardly a gap today. Data flows from every IoT device, replacing guessing and approximations with precise information (1).

Why IT infrastructure is key

Circuit board brain concept. Vector illustration.Let’s take an image and think about infrastructure in parallel. When we speak about transmitting, we speak about Systems; Systems able to process information, and Systems tuned for cognitive computing. A well-known system to process huge amounts of data and provide cognitive insights in real time is the human brain, with a memory of more than 2.5 million Giga Bytes, more than 80 billion neurons, and more than 100 thousand billion synapses. The brain only uses around 20 Watts continuously and is around 1450 cm3 in volume, and weighs an average of 1300g. Ideally, computing Systems should process data as efficiently and with the performance of the human brain.

What happens if the System doesn’t reach the expected speed and efficiency?

If the System lacks adequate capacity or efficiency, it will lose memory and thus data, will have I/O bottlenecks, will not store data in the right location, and will not provide answers when they are needed. In short, the System won’t be able to handle cognitive workloads.

Servers, storage and workload management need to be designed from the ground up for cognitive workloads. There are several critical requirements such as:

  • rapid access to data (low latency and fast storage)
  • faster time to insights (compute infrastructure designed for big data)
  • accelerated performance for complex analytics/machine learning algorithms (hardware acceleration) and
  • preventing data ingestion bottlenecks (unified access to block, file and object data).

Besides caches, memory bandwidth and IO bandwidth, other important components on the server design is to use new types of hardware accelerators, such as co-processors, hardware accelerator units in the processor, GPUs and FPGAs to offload processor-intensive tasks to more optimized hardware units.

Businesses today require cognitive systems that can gain insight from the structured and unstructured data flowing from their IT infrastructure. In our (2) latest study we provide information about cognitive workloads such as deep learning, machine learning or text mining, the main solutions in the market and open source community, and why infrastructure is a key element.

Read complete study

  • IBM Point of view, 2015; https://www.ibm.com/it-infrastructure/us-en/
  • Infrastructure Designed for Cognitive Workloads: Why is it crucial? Xavier Vasques, Laurent Vanel, Madeline Vega, Angshuman Roy, Gerd Franke, Jun Sawada, Raghava Reddy Kapu Veera, Shantan Kethireddy

Posted on behalf of Xavier Vasques.
These are the opinions of the author and while a distinguished member of our Academy and IBM, all thoughts expressed are solely his/her own.

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Academy Think Event: The new ABC’s – Analytics, Big Data and Cognitive Computing

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Have you heard? The new ABC’s: Analytics, Big Data and Cognitive Computing  was the topic of our Academy Think Event held on November 10th.

Our event replay is now available in its entirety on our Ustream Channel. Closed caption is available in English.

For individual videos on each agenda topic, visit our YouTube playlist that are designed for easy use in the classroom.

Agenda Topics:

Welcome with Susan Schreitmueller & Rhonda Childress

 

Calling all makers: Meet TJ Bot! with Maryam Ashoori – “Cool Things” Czar at IBM Research

  • In the spirit of the maker community, TJ Bot is a DIY kit that allows you to build your own programmable cardboard robot powered by Watson. It consists of a cardboard cutout (which can be 3D printed or laser cut), Raspberry Pi and a variety of add-ons – including a RGB LED light, a microphone, a servo motor, and a camera. Most excitingly – TJ Bot is an open-source project with instructions available on Instructables.com and GitHub. While the team at IBM has provided three starter-sets of instructions (recipes) for bringing TJ Bot to life, we’re asking all of you to contribute your own instructions to inspire your fellow makers.

The Internet of Me…Protecting Your Personal Data with Evelyn Anderson, Mike Spisak and Evan Spisak

  • Do you know how your data is being used?  What about the Internet of Things devices – the smart thermostat, smart TV, smart house? What are you really accepting when you agree to the terms and conditions for the “privilege” to utilize those so-called “free” apps?

Data Computing for Social Good with Aleksandra Mojsilovic

  • The challenges our planet faces — poverty, climate, inequalities, access to food, water, healthcare education and cleaner energy sources — continue to grow. Data Scientist is deemed “the sexiest job of the 21st Century” by Harvard Business Review. Learn why.

Medical Minecraft with Phaedra Boinodiris

  • Have you ever learned anything from playing a game?  Have you played a game that made you think differently about an issue or about the world? That made you actually adopt new behaviors or solve a complex real world problem?  Join Phaedra who will introduce you to the world of serious games and the magic that happens when you intersect Watson and games. She will then explain how YOU can make your own magic by following a recipe for your very own Medical Minecraft: a project born from a Game Design class at a high school in Texas for disadvantaged teens.

Mind-Controllable Hungry Hippos with John Clarke and Aidan Knowles, Ethical Hackers from the IBM Ireland Lab

  • Think you have what it takes to stay cool during a Code Red cybersecurity incident? Better yet, can you use your calm brainwaves to beat an opponent? Fresh off their tour from hacker conference Black Hat, our hippos are ready to bring their awesome mind control prowess to you. John and Aidan will take you on a behind-the-scenes journey from the wacky project’s Sci-Fi conception to full-fledged prototype.  Learn how you can create your very own brain-powered hippo machine for just $100, using store-bought tabletop games, a little code and a lot of ingenuity. Prepare for a fun tale spanning reverse-engineering, electronic tinkering, clever programming, futuristic 3D printing technology and a horde of hungry hippos!

Call to Action: Free Learning Kits! with Bryan Childs and John Houston

Tips to help students, schools and parents succeed with our new learning kits on the IBM On Demand Community:

  1. Use IBM Bluemix for 6 to 12 months at no charge with promotion codes!  Sign in with school credentials at http://onthehub.com/ibm/
  2. Academic Initiative now on developerWorks: See https://developer.ibm.com/academic/