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High-Performance Computing

University at Albany to Install First IBM Prototype AI Hardware in the World on a Higher Education Campus

The University at Albany (UAlbany) will be the first higher education institution anywhere to install the prototype IBM Artificial Intelligence Unit (IBM AIU) computing chip designed to run and train deep learning models faster and more efficiently than a general-purpose CPU. Created by IBM at its Research AI Hardware Center, the hardware will be installed as part of a computing cluster at the Center for Emerging Artificial Intelligence Systems (CEAIS) on the UAlbany campus. The installation will begin in late February and completion is expected in the spring.

The IBM AIU's system-on-a-chip architecture has been "optimized for AI inferencing — the process of running live data through a trained AI model to solve a task," according to a news announcement. Boasting 32 AI processing cores and 23 billion transistors, it is housed on a 75w PCIe card that can be easily installed in a server.

Researchers from UAlbany and IBM will work together to explore the use of IBM AIU and other advanced computing resources to further research in areas such as public health, weather prediction, and semiconductor design. UAlbany will also be able to access an IBM advanced GPU cluster via the IBM Cloud for training AI foundation models.

The installation at UAlbany comes at a time when New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced the Empire AI Consortium, a public-private partnership with the goal to "ensure New York leads in AI research and development, job creation, and the responsible adoption of the technology focused on advancing the public good." The State University of New York (SUNY), of which UAlbany is a part, is a founding member of the consortium. UAlbany is also building its own supercomputer, part of its AI Plus Initiative for teaching and learning, with expected completion later this summer.

"Albany is quickly becoming a global leader in technology innovation, and is where IBM continues to build next-generation computing technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and semiconductors," said Mukesh Khare, general manager of IBM Semiconductors and vice president of Hybrid Cloud at IBM Research. "Critical to the continued development of these technologies is a skilled workforce. We are proud to collaborate with UAlbany to bring the IBM AIU to campus, enabling exciting educational and research opportunities in generative AI."

"IBM's decision to offer the very first IBM AIU computing cluster to UAlbany is a testament to the outstanding work our faculty and scientists are doing in generative AI and the strong collaboration between our organizations," commented UAlbany Vice President for Research and Economic Development Thenkurussi Kesavadas. "With access to this powerful new system, UAlbany researchers will have the tools to collaborate on next-generation AI foundation models. The Center for Emerging AI Systems will make UAlbany a global leader in the application of AI, and UAlbany looks forward to sharing its expertise and resources as part of the Empire AI Consortium." 

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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