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11 September 2018

My Ai Summer – Rumours from the trade show floor

Written by Bob Fletcher

Bob, a veteran of the telecommunications and technology industries, is Verne Global's VP of Strategy. He has a keen interest in HPC and the continuing evolution of Ai and deep neural networks (DNN). He's based in Boston, Massachusetts.

It’s been almost a couple of months since my last blog and my marketing team are getting unpeaceful! Luckily there is nothing like the energy and bustle of an industry trade show to get you back into the groove.

Fortunately, I attended Genome Science 2018 at my alma mater, Nottingham University, in the UK this week, which broke both the summer and trade event drought. I know, I know, it wasn’t an Ai event and was even one step removed from our traditional high performance computing (HPC) focus. However, the geneticists there often work both the wet and dry sides of the lab - the wet-side being the genomics chemistry with its genome splicing etc, and the dry-side being the computer analysis of the results (often using HPC platforms). I really enjoyed getting my dry-side education which is still mainly CPU focused with GPUs just starting to make inroads.

While in Nottingham, I could not resist visiting my old Electrical and Electronics Department to get some insight into the convergence of HPC and Ai at the University. While chatting with the relatively few professors there in the late summer it became apparent to me that there is a different cadence between the academia and research driven HPC fields and the more enterprise driven Ai field.

Following ISC18 in late June the HPC market has been mostly calm, whereas last year it came zestfully back to life in early September. We had no such luck with our Ai market which has been flat-out all summer. A long string of hpcDIRECT and hpcDIRECT (GPU) trials have kept us all busy, and the notion of Iceland as the destination for all intensive Ai training roads shows no sign of diminishing.

In preparation for the conclusion of the European holidays we’ve added to our German sales team and I'm delighted Arno Ziebart has joined our team. I’ve been enjoying the late summer Munich air with Arno as we finalise our European plans for the Autumn. The DACH Ai environment has several hotspots. It seems large engineering companies are increasingly placing their Ai labs around Munich and "cyber valley", while many autonomous driving start-up's often use Stuttgart as their hub. We're also seeing the web 3.0 type Ai start-ups clustering in and around Berlin, Ai powered financial and quant analytics being hosted in Frankfurt, and a whole range of interesting machine learning ventures building in the area between Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dortmund.

Arno and I are really looking forward to seeing more of Germany's trailblazing Ai developments, and it's convergence with HPC at I'mAi (the Enterprise Ai and Machine Learning Show) in Berlin, September 16-18, the HPC User Forum in Stuttgart, October 1-2, and the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference in Munich, October 9-11. In addition, we'll be wearing out the shoe-leather at the various Ai meet-ups across Germany.

Our Ai strategy discussions prompted us to establish an “Ai and HPC Field Trip to Iceland” for about twenty industry visionaries to take place next month between the 23-25 October. We reached out to our Ai community in late August and were overwhelmed with the positive response. The goal was to provide an environment for folks embarking on industrial scale deep neural network (DNN) training from many differing industries to collaborate, gain exposure to Iceland’s academic Ai community and experience Verne Global’s unique industrial scale Ai environment.

We’ve targeted attendees who are in some way involved (or have the potential to be involved) in large-scale DNN training, meaning lots more training than a few workstations with a small-scale GPU in the lab are capable of. This is the type of large-scale training which is commonly found in natural language processing, machine vision, drug discovery and intensive algorithmic data analytics.

At the Field Trip I will be sharing some of the Ai tips and tricks that I’ve encountered on the Ai industry event circuit over the last year, such as: how to limit DNN data scientist attrition, the hotspots of DNN data scientist hiring and new interesting DNN training tools.

Our October Ai and HPC Field Trip is now at capacity, but if you would be interested in attending our next scheduled one - 24-26 February, 2019 - reach out to me at bob.fletcher@verneglobal.com

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