During Microsoft’s Ignite Technology conference in Atlanta their CEO, Satya Nadella, revealed the newest piece of technology. It’s a powerful piece of silicon inside their cloud-oriented information centers. It gives Microsoft’s Azure platform a tremendous advantage in the artificial intelligence field.
Microsoft has installed Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) in 15 countries across five different continents, all within the past two years. Microsoft dubbed the project “Project Catapult”.
FPGA acts similarly to a computers CPU and GPU, but they can be reprogrammed on the fly to best satisfy a need.
“What this means is that in addition to getting the efficiency of hardware, you also get the flexibility because you can change their functionality on the fly. This new architecture that we’ve built effectively puts an FPGA-based AI supercomputer into our global, hyper scale cloud. We get awesome speed, scale, and efficiency. It will change what’s possible for AI,” a statement from Microsoft said.
Microsoft showed the ability to translate five billion words from one language to another in under a tenth of a second. This is half the amount it takes for a human to blink.
“That crazy speed shows the raw power of what we’ve developed in our intelligent cloud,” the statement went on. “Microsoft is the first to have its global hyper scale cloud enhanced with FGPA’s. It gives us the most powerful, the most flexible and the most intelligent clouds. It’s ten times the AI capability of the largest existing supercomputer. We can solve problems with AI that weren’t even possible before.”
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