Customers around the world rely on Microsoft Azure to drive innovations related to our environment, public health, energy sustainability, weather modeling, economic growth, and more. Finding solutions to these important challenges requires huge amounts of focused computing power. Customers are increasingly finding the best way to access such high-performance computing (HPC) is through the agility, scale, security, and leading edge performance of Azure’s purpose-built HPC and AI cloud services.
Azure’s market-leading vision for HPC and AI is based on a core of genuine and recognized HPC expertise, using proven HPC technology and design principles, enhanced with the best features of the cloud. The result is a capability that delivers performance, scale, and value unlike any other cloud. This means applications scaling 12 times higher than other public clouds. It means higher application performance per node. It means powering AI workloads for one customer with a supercomputer fit to be among the top five in the world. And it means delivering massive compute power into the hands of medical researchers over a weekend to prove out life-saving innovations in the fight against COVID-19.
Big moments for Azure HPC and AI Supercomputing in 2020
Last year, you might recall that Microsoft entered into a strategic partnership with OpenAI. Earlier this year, OpenAI released their first application programming interface (AP)I for their general-purpose language model, Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3), giving developers access to advanced natural language processing (NLP) technologies for building more interactive applications and services. Shortly thereafter, OpenAI announced it has agreed to license its GPT-3 technology to Microsoft to use within its own products and services.
This will continue to offer developers and scientists new means to not just transform their organizations but to do so faster and with less disruption. It was also announced that Microsoft has deployed dedicated cloud supercomputing capability for OpenAI, comparable to the top five supercomputers in the world.
Living with a pandemic causes people to be clever about creating new solutions. Ventilators have become a scarce resource as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads around the world. Professor Randles and her team at Duke University rushed to find a safe and easy way to effectively split a single ventilator between two patients. They partnered with Microsoft AI for Health to run over 800,000 computer hours in just 36 hours to build a life-saving solution.
UCB transforms the lives of people living with severe diseases. They have been collaborating with biopharma, tech companies, chemical vendors, and individual contributors on the COVID Moonshot initiative, which is aimed at developing solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as support and partnership with Microsoft was granted, the productivity of their teams went through the roof. By using Azure, they could now do in three days what would have taken six months. This computational horsepower combined with UCB Medicinal Chemistry efforts has helped move forward their research into their efficacy against COVID-19.
Previous 2020 Azure HPC and AI product launches
Azure HBv2 HPC clusters with over 80,000 AMD “Rome” cores and low latency InfiniBand interconnect.
Azure’s HBv2 HPC clusters have been a gamechanger for HPC customers. These true HPC cloud computing products mean the largest workloads can now run on the Azure cloud. Many firsts were achieved with HBv2, such as the first cloud to deliver over 80,000 cores for a single tightly coupled MPI application.
“In the world of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), there is constant pressure to accelerate the speed of product design and today, our customers are looking turn around high-fidelity simulations in hours, not weeks. Running Simcenter STAR-CCM+ on the latest Microsoft Azure HBv2 series has enabled our customers to scale-up their simulations quickly and easily without expensive hardware investment or compromising solution fidelity. Our customers get the same performance and scaling as on-premises at lower cost, enabling them to make better engineering decisions faster.”—Keith Foston, Senior Product Manager, Simcenter STAR-CCM+, Siemens
Azure NVv4 Virtual Machines.
Azure NVvv4 Virtual Machines are an extreme choice in price and performance for your visualization needs.
“The diversity of the new AMD-based Workspot cloud desktops on Microsoft Azure is a huge deal for us. Based on the application requirements of each engineer, we can dedicate all or a fraction of the AMD GPU to their Workspot workstation on Azure. This finer resolution of control gives us the financial edge we need to remove more people to Workspot cloud desktops on Azure and increase our overall productivity.”—Eric Quinn, CTO at C&S Companies
Azure NDv2 HPC and AI clusters with NVIDIA V100 Tensor Core GPUs.
Azure NDv2 GPU clusters are designed for the most demanding distributed HPC, AI, and machine learning workloads. Azure NDv2 GPU clusters with Riskfuel technology offer risk calculations 20 million times faster valuation of derivatives.
“The current market volatility demonstrates the need for real-time valuation and risk management for OTC derivatives. The era of the nightly batch is ending. And it’s not just the blazing fast inferencing of the Azure ND40rs_v2 Virtual Machine that we value so much, but also the model training tasks as well. On this fast GPU instance, we have reduced our training time from 48 hours to under four! The reduced time to train the model coupled with on-demand availability maximizes the productivity of our AI engineering team.”—Ryan Ferguson, CEO, Riskfuel