IBM is cutting deep-learning processing times from days down to hours

deep learning
Daniel Kaesler/123RF
Deep learning uses algorithms inspired by the way human brains operate to put computers to work on tasks too big for organic gray matter. On Monday, IBM announced that a new record for the performance of a large neural network working with a large data set.

The company’s new deep-learning software brings together more than 256 graphics processing units across 64 IBM Power systems. The speed improvements brought about by the research come as a result of better communication between the array of GPUs.

Faster GPUs provide the necessary muscle to take on the kind of large scale problems today’s deep-learning systems are capable of tackling. However, the faster the components are, the more difficult it is to ensure that they are all working together as one cohesive unit.

As individual GPUs work on a particular problem, they share their learning with the other processors that make up the system. Conventional software is not capable of keeping up with the speed of current GPU technology, which means that time is wasted as they wait around for one another’s results.

Hillery Hunter, IBM’s director of systems acceleration and memory, compared the situation to the well-known parable of the blind men and the elephant. The company’s distributed deep-learning project has resulted in an API that developers can be used in conjunction with deep-learning frameworks to scale to multiple servers, making sure that their GPUs remain synchronized.

IBM recorded image recognition accuracy of 33.8 percent on a test run using 7.5 million images from the ImageNet-22K database. The previous best-published result was 29.8 percent, which was posted by Microsoft in October 2014 — in the past, accuracy has typically edged forward at a rate of about one percent in new implementations, so an improvement of four percent is considered to be a very good result.

Crucially, IBM’s system managed to achieve this in seven hours; the process that allowed Microsoft to set the previous record took 10 days to complete.

“Speed and scalability, which means higher accuracy, means that we can quickly retrain an AI model after there is a new cyber-security hack or a new fraud situation,” Hunter told Digital Trends. “Waiting for days or weeks to retrain the model is not practical — so being able to train accurately and within hours makes a big difference.”

These massive improvements in terms of speed, combined with advances in terms of accuracy make IBM’s distributed deep-learning software a major boon for anyone working with this technology. A technical preview of the API is available now as part of the company’s PowerAI enterprise deep-learning software.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Statistician raises red flag about reliability of machine learning techniques

Machine learning is everywhere in science and technology. But how reliable are these techniques really? A statistician argues that questions of accuracy and reproducibility of machine learning have not been fully addressed.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Computing

DLSS is finally arriving in games, but how does Nvidia's super-sampling actually work?

Nvidia's new DLSS technology is exciting, but what is it and how does it work? It's not quite anti-aliasing and it's not quite super sampling. It's a little bit of both and the end results can be impressive.
Web

Are you one of the billions who have watched these super-popular YouTube videos?

Viral videos can quickly garner millions upon millions of views, but even they fall well behind the view counts on the most watched YouTube videos ever. Those have been watched billions of times.
Business

Marriott asking guests for data to see if they were victims of the Starwood hack

Marriott has created an online form to help you find out if your data was stolen in the massive Starwood hack that came to light toward the end of 2018. But take note, it requires you to submit a bunch of personal details.
Computing

Windows updates shouldn't cause problems, but if they do, here's how to fix them

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.
Computing

Speed up your system by tweaking the startup application in Windows and MacOS

Bothered by programs that automatically start when you boot your computer, or want to add a new one to the list? Here's how to change your startup programs in Windows 7, 8, and 10, along with Apple's MacOS.
Computing

Apple may go big with a redesigned 16-inch MacBook Pro, 31.6-inch 6K display

In a research note, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo writes that there are indications the company could be releasing a 16-inch MacBook Pro, as well as a 31.6-inch 6K display in 2019.
Computing

Accidental Amazon listings provides peek at cost of GTX 1660 Ti PCs

An accidental listing on Amazon provided a peek at the final cost of some of the new Windows 10 desktops with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti on board, with prices possibly in the $1,200 range.
Deals

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…
Computing

Nvidia promises DLSS at low resolutions will be ‘top priority’ in future updates

Nvidia's deep learning super sampling needs work. Gamers know it and now we know Nvidia knows it too. The company made it clear on the technology's FAQ page that it plans to make fixing DLSS a top priority.
Computing

All signs point to a new Apple external display in 2019. Will it be 6K or 8K?

Will there be an Apple Display 2019? It looks like Apple is getting ready to announce a new monitor, after canceling its old Thunderbolt Display back in 2016. But what will this new display look like? Here's what we know.