The Power AIRI Brings to Artificial Intelligence


Pure Storage Inc. has unveiled AIRI, a new hardware platform built in collaboration with graphics chipmaker Nvidia Corp. that targets enterprises pursuing large-scale artificial intelligence initiatives. 

Introduced at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California, the system is a “fully integrated” solution that cuts the complexity of creating an AI environment, the companies said. It’s based on Pure’s analytics-optimized FlashBlade storage system and DGX-1, a specialized server from Nvidia built for deep learning that uses its graphics processing unit chips.  

AIRI incorporates the version of DGX-1 that’s based on the chipmaker’s Tesla V100 graphics card, which retails at $8,699 and has the specifications to match. It packs 21.1 billion transistors that form more than 5,700 individual processing cores, including 640 so-called Tensor Cores. These are specialized circuits optimized for handling the kinds of calculations that machine learning algorithms perform as they process data.

A single DGX-1 server packs eight Tesla V100s and the AIRI incorporates five such machines, giving it five petaflops of processing power. A petaflop is equivalent to a quadrillion floating-point operations per second, a standard unit of computer performance.

The DGX-1 servers in AIRI connect to Pure’s FlashArray storage gear using speedy 100-gigabit Ethernet switches from Arista Networks Inc. On the software side, the platform includes a number of tools designed to help companies quickly get started with their projects.

The lineup has two main components. The first is a bundle called the AIRI Scaling Toolkit provided by Pure, while the other is the Nvidia GPU Cloud, a collection of popular AI development frameworks that the chipmaker has packaged into GPU-optimized software containers. They make it possible to set up an environment quickly where a company’s developers can build and train neural networks.

With this much power, AIRI is aimed squarely at large enterprises. One early adopter is Zenuity AB, a joint venture between Volvo Cars Corp. and automotive safety system supplier Autoliv Inc. that develops autonomous driving software.

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