& cplSiteName &

Microsoft's 'Project Brainwave' Details Ambitious AI Plans

Scott Ferguson

Microsoft is developing new ways to deliver artificial intelligence and deep learning technologies to developers as a service through its Azure public cloud.

At the Hot Chips 2017 conference this week, Microsoft offered a detailed look at "Project Brainwave," the company's deep-learning acceleration platform for delivering what it calls "real-time AI"

Project Brainwave is made up of three parts, according to a company blog post:

  • A high-performance, distributed system architecture
  • A deep-neural network (DNN) engine that is synthesized into specialized field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) chips
  • Finally, a compiler and runtime for what Microsoft calls "low-friction deployment of trained models."

What does it all mean? Essentially, Microsoft wants to use its own massive infrastructure to support the FPGAs and deliver the platform as a microservice to developers and others who want to create different applications that have a layer of AI or deep learning such as natural language processing.

A look at how Brainwave works
(Source: Microsoft Research)
A look at how Brainwave works
(Source: Microsoft Research)

As Doug Burger, a distinguished engineer at Microsoft, writes in an August 22 blog post:

Project Brainwave leverages the massive FPGA infrastructure that Microsoft has been deploying over the past few years. By attaching high-performance FPGAs directly to our datacenter network, we can serve DNNs as hardware microservices, where a DNN can be mapped to a pool of remote FPGAs and called by a server with no software in the loop. This system architecture both reduces latency, since the CPU does not need to process incoming requests, and allows very high throughput, with the FPGA processing requests as fast as the network can stream them.

Ultimately, Microsoft plans to deliver this deep-learning platform through its Azure public cloud, making it a service that developers can tap into as needed. The company is also providing support for different deep-learning frameworks, including Microsoft's own Cognitive Toolkit and Google's Tensorflow.

At the Hot Chips show, researchers showed Brainwave working on an Intel 14 nm Stratix 10 FPGA, which offered a performance of 39.5 Teraflops. (A teraflop is one million, million floating-point operations per second.)

Keep up with the latest enterprise cloud news and insights. Sign up for the weekly Enterprise Cloud News newsletter.

In his blog post, Burger noted that Microsoft plans to improve the performance "over the next few quarters" but he did not give an indication when the service would be available to Azure users. At ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley noted that Redmond has spoken previously about Brainwave in 2016, and that it could reach developers by next year.

Over the past several months, Microsoft has released a steady stream of AI news and the company has revamped part of its sales team to focus on AI, machine learning and deep learning technologies. (See Microsoft Reorg Targets Cloud & AI Sales.)

In July, the company announced it is developing its own AI chip to incorporate the technology into its next-generation HoloLens. (See Microsoft Designing Its Own AI Chip.)

In addition, Microsoft recently opened its own AI research lab with about a 100 researchers working on different projects. (See Microsoft Establishes New AI Research Lab.)

Related posts:

— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
More Blogs from Scott Ferguson
From its roots in industrial farm machinery and other equipment, John Deere has always looked for a technological edge. About 20 years ago, it was GPS and then 4G LTE. Now it's turning its attention to AI, machine learning and IoT.
Artificial intelligence and automation will become more integral to the enterprise, and 90% of all apps will have integrated AI capabilities by 2020, according to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd.
IBM is now offering access to Nvidia's Tesla V100 GPUs through its cloud offerings to help accelerate AI, HPC and other high-throughput workloads.
CIO Rhonda Gass is spearheading an effort to bring more automation and IoT to the factories making Stanley Black & Decker tools and other equipment.
Workday is looking to build out its machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities with the acquisition of startup SkipFlag.
Featured Video
From The Founder
Ngena's global 'network of networks' solves a problem that the telecom vendors promised us would never exist. That doesn't mean its new service isn't a really good idea.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 22, 2018, Denver, Colorado | Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 28, 2018, Kansas City Convention Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
April 9, 2018, Las Vegas Convention Center
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
May 14, 2018, Brazos Hall, Austin, Texas
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Dell CTO: Public Cloud Is 'Way More Expensive Than Buying From Us'
Mitch Wagner, Mitch Wagner, Editor, Enterprise Cloud, Light Reading, 3/19/2018
Eurobites: Cambridge Analytica Feels the Heat
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 3/20/2018
Is Business Voice Rapidly Fading?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/15/2018
HR: Cable Dominates US Broadband
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/21/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed