“This computer has a calculation speed of two petaflops per second,” says Steven Latré, professor of computer science (UAntwerp/imec). “One petaflop is 10 to the 15th power or a quadrillion. It will be 8.3 times faster than the CalcUA.”
The University of Antwerp has had a supercomputer – the CalcUA – which has a calculating power of 240 teraflops for several years now. It can perform 240 trillion (10 to the 12th) ‘floating point operations per second’ (flops), which are calculations like sums or multiplications, and is mainly used for scientific research. Sometimes it is also made available to companies.
The DGX-1, the first version of NVIDIA’s DGX supercomputer, which has a computing power of 960 teraflops, has been used by imec’s City of Things teams since late 2017 for ‘deep learning’ of camera images for smart city cases.
In addition to the CalcUA at UAntwerp and the DGX-1 at imec, a new supercomputer will now be installed at IDLab, an imec research group at UAntwerp. Despite its super performance, it is not supersized: the NVIDIA DGX-2 is no bigger than a small refrigerator.
The new computer is essential for tackling today’s challenges.
“We’ve now entered the age of artificial intelligence and deep learning,” Latré said. “Our researchers constantly need a tremendous amount of computing power. When training new AI systems, they often have to wait several hours to get a result. A good combination of CPUs (central processing units) and GPUs (graphics processing units) is crucial in this regard.”