Future Tech

Author: Tan KW   |   Latest post: Wed, 25 May 2022, 9:54 PM


HPE, Cerebras build AI supercomputer for scientific research

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 25 May 2022, 9:54 PM

System designed to meet current and future compute needs of researchers

HPE and Cerebras Systems have built a new AI supercomputer in Munich, Germany, pairing a HPE Superdome Flex with the AI accelerator technology from Cerebras for use by the scientific and engineering community.

The new system, created for the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Munich, is being deployed to meet the current and expected future compute needs of researchers, including larger deep learning neural network models and the emergence of multi-modal problems that involve multiple data types such as images and speech, according to Laura Schulz, LRZ's head of Strategic Developments and Partnerships.

"We're seeing an increase in large data volumes coming at us that need more and more processing, and models that are taking months to train, we want to be able to speed that up," Schulz said.

"And then we're also seeing multi-modal problems, such as integration of natural language processing (NLP) and medical imaging or documents, so we have this complexity, we have this the need for faster, we have this need for bigger that's coming from our user side, from our facility side, and we need to make sure that we're constantly evaluating to have these different novel architectures, to have different usage models to be able to understand all that."

HPE-Cerebras graphic

Click to enlarge

The LRZ team decided that the Cerebras technology, with its large shared memory and scalability, was a good match for the "pain points" they were trying to resolve, she said.

"And then the combination of Cerebras with the Superdome Flex from HPE, this seemed to make sense. The Superdome Flex has a very efficient pre and post-data processing, the resource management, it keeps the Cerebras system fed, and it keeps it nice and happy and full of data."

The Cerebras technology is built on the concept of using an entire silicon wafer to make the central processor, rather than cutting it up into individual chips. The result is a Wafer-Scale Engine that has 850,000 cores optimized for sparse linear algebra operations with 40GB of on-chip memory, fabricated using a 7nm production process.

"Each one of these cores is identical and fully programmable, built, from the ground up to optimize performance for the sparse linear algebra, compute operations that are common both to large scale AI and HPC workloads," explained Cerebras VP of product management Andy Hock.

"Each one of those cores is also directly connected to its four nearest neighbours across the entire device, within a high bandwidth, low latency interconnect mesh, and the dataflow traffic pattern between cores is fully programmable at compile time. So not only are we bringing massive compute resources to bear but also very high bandwidth memory and high bandwidth communication between those processors."

This architecture contrasts with the typical approach to tackling large-scale AI problems, which is to build a large cluster of servers. But as the problems and the models get ever larger, this approach shows diminishing returns, according to Cerebras.

"The time to solution doesn't scale linearly. So you might bring to bear, say, hundreds of processors, but only get a result tens of times faster," Hock said.

HPE-Cerebras graphic

In contrast, the Wafer-Scale Engine, with its closely linked host of processors, allows for linear performance scaling out to models that are on the order of hundreds of millions of parameters or even billions of parameters, Hock claimed.

The CS-2 system has one of these Wafer-Scale Engines inside a 15U rack-mount chassis along with redundant power supplies, an internal liquid cooling system, and a dozen 100GbE network ports to link to the outside world.

In the new LRZ deployment, one CS-2 is linked using all those network ports to the HPE Superdome Flex via an SN3700M Switch using a fully non-blocking topology.

The Superdome Flex is fitted with eight InfiniBand HDR100 adapters to link it to the LRZ's backbone network and, according to HPE, "ensure a proper injection bandwidth from the file system to sustain the expected very high performance of the CS-2 and feed it smoothly."  

The Superdome Flex itself has 16 Intel Xeon processors with 12TB of system memory and 100TB of NVMe local storage.

However, the key part of the whole system is the software stack, which Cerebras claims enables the LRZ scientists and researchers to use standard AI software tools to build code that will run on the CS-2.

"We know as researchers and scientists ourselves at Cerebras that a high performance computing platform is only good if it's easy to use, and we can only reach that broader user audience if we allow them to programme this machine with standard frameworks that they're using today," Hock said.

This is achieved through a compiler that allows users such as machine learning researchers and data scientists to develop in standard frameworks like TensorFlow, and PyTorch, and translates their code into an executable that can run on one or more CS-2 devices.

"We also have a lower level software development kit that many of our HPC audience are using to add custom kernels into our compiler to bring to life not just to AI applications, but also HPC applications for a wide range of projects ranging from signal processing to physics based modelling and simulation," Hock said.

Dr Dieter Kranzlmüller, chair of the Board of Directors at LZR, said that the new system would be used to combine aspects of traditional HPC and AI processing for some applications.

"We're following here an integrated supercomputer architecture, which means that the future HPC system is heterogeneous and we'll pick up all the help we can get from advanced technology," he said.

"So the idea is really that you will have your HPC application, but the HPC application will get additional benefits reaching out to specialized solutions for particular applications or a sort of a model where we improve the time to solution by replacing part of the complexity with AI models, then run these on a specialized chip, on specialized hardware."

The new deployment is not the first installation to pair a Cerebras system with an HPE Superdome server. As detailed by our sister site The Next Platform, the Neocortex supercomputer at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center at Carnegie Mellon University actually has two Cerebras systems, linked together and to the Bridges-2 supercomputer via the Superdome. ®


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[转贴] 复旦教授的EDA创业路:获华为投资,首款产品今年发布

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 25 May 2022, 9:52 PM


作者 |  高歌
编辑 |  Panken

近年来,中国公司屡遭美国芯片制裁,被誉为“芯片之母”的EDA(电子设计自动化)是国产芯片“卡脖子”的关键环节。今年3月,美国商务部长Gina Raimondo就曾提到,由于中国半导体公司依赖美国软件,美国政府甚至可以以此“关闭”中国公司。在全球EDA市场,美国Cadence(楷登电子)、Synopsys(新思科技)和Mentor(西门子EDA)三大巨头占据了90%以上的份额,国产EDA公司则难以撼动其地位。








2016年,为了实现研究突破,陈建利到台湾大学进行为期一年的研究,在台湾大学教授、IEEE/ACM Fellow张耀文的邀请下,任台湾大学客座研究员。

复旦教授的EDA创业路:获华为投资,首款产品今年发布▲曾担任IEEE CEDA(设计自动化技术委员会)主席的台湾大学教授、IEEE/ACM Fellow张耀文




此外,在前段时间因华中科技大学获得冠军而破圈的顶级EDA赛事CAD Contest(国际集成计算机辅助设计竞赛)上,陈建利及其团队也是中国大陆首次冠军得主。2017年-2019年,他的团队连续三年获得冠军,是全球第二支实现这一成就的队伍。













谈到LePlace时,陈建利显得比较自豪,称LePlace既和自己名字最后一个字同音,也和他十分喜欢的法国数学家拉普拉斯(Pierre-Simon Laplace)名字较为接近。他也十分清醒,提到布局技术是EDA领域最难的问题,国内公司和EDA三大巨头的差距较大,并非短期内能够快速追赶,不然也无法被称为“卡脖子”的产业。





















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Russia will start a pilot project for 'digital' rouble from April - cbank

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 25 May 2022, 7:27 PM

 Russia will start a pilot project using its "digital" rouble with real customers and real transactions from April 2023, its central bank said on Wednesday, adding that the project would run ahead of the initial schedule.

With Western sanctions cutting off Russia from large parts of the global financial system, Moscow is looking for alternative ways to make key payments both at home and abroad. In April, Moscow planned to have the "digital" rouble capable of making international payments ready by next year.


  - Reuters


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China’s digital yuan goes to school with student card that gives parents control over spending

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 25 May 2022, 6:43 PM

China’s rapidly expanding sovereign digital currency has arrived in school in the form of a palm-sized device that allows parents to track the location and purchase records of their kids.
The new e-CNY “card”, which is effectively a small mobile phone, is being made available to students at Hainan Luxun High School in the city of Sanya, in China’s southernmost province. The device lets students make payments at designated stores and make calls with select numbers. Location tracking is enabled through GPS, according to state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).
Parents can place limits on the device using the e-CNY app, China’s official digital currency wallet that became widely available to the public in January. The app lets parents top-up their children’s e-wallets and access their consumption records using a special SIM card.
Parents can also choose which phone numbers can reach the device, which was co-developed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and telecoms companies. In addition to the numbers of three trusted family members, parents can add up to 20 other numbers for incoming calls to the device to help children “avoid the harassment of unknown calls”.
With smartphones banned by the education ministry at primary and middle schools, the project at Hainan Luxun High School, which covers grades one to 12, aims to satisfy the needs for parents and students to communicate and “address the issues of students’ daily consumption and commuting safety”, CCTV reported.
China became the first major economy to begin exploring its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) in 2014, an effort that ramped up in 2019. The e-CNY is now being trialled in many cities across China, but there is no official timetable for a national launch.
Current trials remain active in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xian. Other cities such as Shenzhen and Suzhou have been involved with promoting the e-CNY since late 2019.
Trials are set to expand this year to more cities, including Chongqing, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Guangzhou.
Hainan has been the only location to get a provincewide e-CNY trial. As of mid-February, 116,800 stores across the island accepted the digital currency, according to the state-run People’s Daily.
Nationwide, the e-CNY had 261 million users by the end of last year, double what it had in October.
China’s rapid push to develop a sovereign digital currency, known officially as the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), has made the country a global leader in the area.
Many other central banks have explored the development of a CBDC. Nine countries, seven of which belong to the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, have launched a digital currency, according to the Atlantic Council. Another 15 countries are piloting a digital currency, but China is by far the largest economy to do so.
The US is among the 40 countries still researching the idea. The Federal Reserve released a research paper on CBDCs in January. The following month, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston released research on two different architectures that could theoretically support a digital dollar.
The Bank of Japan has also advanced in this area, saying it moved to the second phase of its CBDC experiment in April, which focuses on financial stability. The bank did not clarify whether it would make a digital yen available to the public.
China said last month that it would expand cross-border use of the digital yuan “when the time is ripe”, with technical testing already under way with Hong Kong.
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Police officer to be suspended for allegedly taking upskirt video of woman in Hong Kong’s financial district

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 25 May 2022, 6:28 PM

Police will suspend an officer who was arrested on suspicion of taking an upskirt video of a woman on an escalator in Hong Kong’s main financial district, the force has revealed.

The 28-year-old constable, attached to Cheung Sha Wan Police Station, was off duty when the alleged act took place on Pedder Street outside Central MTR station shortly before 2pm on Tuesday.

He was accused of taking an upskirt video on his mobile phone of a 29-year-old woman on the ascending escalator leading to the Pedder Street footbridge, according to the force.

His alleged act was discovered by plain-clothes officers from the railway police district’s task force who were patrolling the area at the time of the incident.

A photo posted online shows five plain-clothes officers pinning the off-duty constable on the ground, with many onlookers.

The Post learned that officers found the upskirt video in the suspect’s mobile phone.

According to police, the man was being held for questioning and had not been charged. Detectives from the Central district crime squad are handling the case.

Police confirmed the man was an off-duty officer and would be suspended.

“Police attach great importance to the conduct of officers,” the force said in its statement, adding that it had zero tolerance for illegal acts and the matter would be handled seriously.

In March, the Post reported that four police officers would face immediate dismissal after being arrested for allegedly having sex with an underage girl they met through a dating app.

The four constables were arrested at their homes on March 15 before reporting for duty. They were also suspended from work.

The 15-year-old girl involved was said to have met the four separately through a dating app late last year and had intercourse with each of them on different occasions. The girl revealed the relationships in February to a social worker, who alerted police.

A force insider told the Post in March that police chief Raymond Siu Chak-Yee was so outraged by the alleged crimes that he was considering using his legal powers to sack the accused before criminal investigations and disciplinary hearings began.

Under the Police Force Ordinance, a commissioner can fire a constable who has not completed 10 years of service by serving one month’s notice in writing or paying one month’s salary in lieu of notice.

A total of 37 officers were arrested on suspicion of various criminal offences in 2021, compared with 45 from the previous year.



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Twitter to hold annual meeting amid Musk uncertainty

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 25 May 2022, 6:28 PM

Twitter Inc will face skeptical shareholders on Wednesday during its annual meeting, as doubt remains over whether the social media company will complete its deal to be acquired by billionaire Elon Musk at the agreed-upon price.

The Tesla chief executive tweeted on May 13 that the $44 billion acquisition was "temporarily on hold" while he sought more information about the proportion of fake accounts on Twitter.

The company said last week it remained committed to the deal at the agreed price. However, investors have appeared unconvinced, as Twitter's shares closed on Tuesday at $35.76, representing a 34% discount to the $54.20 per share deal price.

While the virtual annual meeting will include a question and answer session on Wednesday, a Twitter spokesperson said the company will not answer deal-related questions.

Twitter investors are set to vote on five stockholder proposals, all opposed by management, which include asking the company to produce a report on its impact on civil rights and another on its lobbying activities.

The meeting itself will not be "particularly relevant" to the agreement to be acquired by Musk, said Donna Hitscherich, a professor of finance at Columbia Business School.

Even if shareholders approve any of the proposals, it will be non-binding, she said.


  - Reuters


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