Microsoft unveils it’s new real time AI engine

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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • AI’s that can analyse data in real time will become increasingly important as we come to rely on them more and more to help us make, and automate, decisions


 

It’s probably fair to say that in many cases, whether it’s the new breed of Personal Digital Assistants, or in the healthcare and security industries particularly, that you want your Artificial Intelligence (AI) to work in real time, on data as it happens. And Microsoft knows this as well.

 

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This week the software juggernaut, who recently bought us AI’s that have learnt how to create their own programs, and wrangle pigs to make them better at cooperating, just unveiled its new hardware acceleration platform, Project Brainwave, that promises speedy, real time AI in the cloud.

Thanks to Intel’s new Stratix 10 Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chip, which Microsoft have been using to turn their Azure cloud platform into the world’s biggest supercomputer, their new AI can crunch a hefty 39.5 teraflops in machine learning tasks with less than 1 millisecond of latency, without having to batch tasks together. In other words it can handle complex AI tasks as they’re received, and that’s huge.

 

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The new platform is considerably more flexible than many of its hard coded rivals, too, and it relies on a “soft” Dynamic Neural Network (DNN) processing engine that’s just “dropped” into the new FPGA’s whereas most of Microsoft’s competitors often have to lock their AI’s into their FPGA’s from the outset and that limits their flexibility and performance.

The new platform is also integrated with Microsoft’s own AI framework, called Cognitive Toolkit, and works with a variety of other AI platforms including Google’s TensorFlow, an open approach gives users the flexibility to build new machine learning systems the way they want to while giving them the advantage of letting them run them all in real time, instead of letting the hardware dictate their methods.

 

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To no one’s surprise, Microsoft plans to make Project Brainwave available via its own Azure cloud services so companies can make use of live AI, and while there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be widely adopted it’s a bold and important step forwards, and one that Microsoft hopes will give it an edge over its rivals in what’s becoming an increasingly competitive market.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute is described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers.” Among other things Matthew keeps busy helping the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers ideate the next five generations of smartphones, and what comes beyond, the world’s largest chip makers envision the next twenty years of intelligent machines, and is helping Europe’s largest energy companies re-invent energy generation, transmission and retail.

Recognised in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as one of Europe’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an award winning author, entrepreneur and international speaker who has been featured on the BBC, Discovery and other outlets. Working hand in hand with accelerators, investors, governments, multi-nationals and regulators around the world Matthew helps them envision the future and helps them transform their industries, products and go to market strategies, and shows them how the combination of new, democratised, powerful emerging technologies are helping accelerate cultural, industrial and societal change.

Matthew’s clients include Accenture, Bain & Co, Bank of America, Blackrock, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deutsche Bank, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Du Pont, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, HPE, Huawei, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, McKinsey & Co, PWC, Qualcomm, Rolls Royce, SAP, Samsung, Schroeder’s, Sequoia Capital, Sopra Steria, UBS, the UK’s HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.

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