IT

Google serves machine learning chips in the cloud

Google serves machine learning chips in the cloud

Called a TPU pod, it can deliver up 11.5 petaflops (or 11,500 teraflops) of compute to train either a single large machine learning model or many smaller ones.

Nextbigfuture talked to an attendee of 2017 Google IO and he reported that Google will be putting mini versions of the second generation TPU (tensor processing unit) into all new google cellphones. A server with four of the so-called Cloud TPUs delivers 180 TFlops that will be used both for training and inference tasks. Dean claims that only eight of the second-generation chips could train a Google translation program in an afternoon, where it had taken a full day for 32 graphics chips to train the same software.

At the same time, chip suppliers are pouring billions of dollars to stay ahead of the machine learning demands of cloud companies like Google and Microsoft, which has also devised custom chips for data centers. The addition will significantly bulk up the capabilities of Google Cloud and provide acceleration to machine learning workloads. As powerful as they are, many developers will not want to get locked into Google's machine learning framework. Google is in the process of setting up a program to vet potential researchers and projects. The previous TPU could only do inference - for instance, relying on Google Cloud to crunch numbers in real time to produce a result.

Called the Cloud TPU, the second-generation chip will be available to anyone through the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Aamir Khan, Kajol, Rishi Kapoor and more attend Reema Lagoo's funeral
Among the Bollywood faces seen at Lagoo's funeral on Thursday were Aamir Khan with wife Kiran Rao, Rishi Kapoor and Kajol. She is survived by daughter Mrunmayee, who is also a theatre and film actress and theatre director.

That means that you can build a machine learning model - for example, to correctly identify an object in a photo is a tree, a vehicle or a cat. By contrast, one-eighth of a TPU pod can train the model in just six hours. This has manifested itself in a number of different consumer products, like Google Translate's near-instantaneous ability to turn an English sentence into its Mandarin counterpart or AlphaGo's ability to play the deep, chess-like board game with superhuman proficiency.

So how do Google's new Cloud TPUs perform? It's now both much faster capable of floating-point computation, which means it's suitable for training neural networks, too.

Google is making its Cloud TPUs available as part of its Google Compute offering, and says that they will be priced similar to GPUs.

"I would expect us to use these TPUs more and more for our training needs, making our experiment cycle faster and more rapid", said Jeff Dean, a senior fellow and head of the Google Brain research team, in a media briefing on Tuesday. Many of you reading this have at least one Gmail account, if not several, and for many people Google is the go-to search engine. The researchers must be willing to openly publish the results of their research and potentially open source the code associated with their research.


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