Nvidia DGX supercomputer at center of $70M AI effort with University of Florida

University of Florida will receive $25 million from Nvidia founder Chris Malakowsky, a UF alum, and another $25 million from Nvidia for a supercomputer devoted to AI, while UF will kick in $20 million. The project also envisions work on detecting bias in AI and wants to attract minority students to study and work in AI. (UF)

Nvidia and The University of Florida laid out plans Tuesday for a $70 million partnership to build the world’s fastest supercomputer devoted to artificial intelligence work in higher education.

The 700 petaflops Nvidia DGX SuperPOD will boost the HiPerGator already used on the Gainesville, Florida, campus.  The Nvidia machine is expected to be up and running by early 2021.

Even though its AI capabilities will be world-class, the project is noteworthy for its intended boost to AI training and tools for underrepresented students on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement and global protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

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 “People around the country and the globe are looking to universities to expand access to higher education and technology and to level the field of opportunity for all,” UF President Kent Fuchs said in a statement. “UF intends to meet that challenge and this partnership will help us do it.”

UF will collaborate with historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions, as well as K-12 programs, with a focus on “equitable access for every demographic,” Nvidia said in a blog.

UF said it will also establish an Equitable AI program to create tools for detecting bias, unethical practice and legal and moral issues around AI development.  The university will also work with the Inclusive Engineering Consortium for research and recruitment of UF grad students.

Nvidia’s Deep Learning Institute will collaborate with UF on developing new curriculum for students and the community to encourage interest in STEM and AI and prepare student for future employment.  Also, UF will become the site of the latest Nvidia AI Technology center where UF grad students will work with Nvidia workers to advance AI.  UF hopes to create 30,000 AI-enabled graduates by 2030.

Nvidia suggested AI work can be used to address major challenges such as rising seas, aging populations, data security, personalized medicine, urban transportation and food insecurity.  Rising sea levels are especially concerning to Florida, a peninsula with more than 1,300 miles of coastline. The new supercomputer will also be used to accelerate processing in pandemic research.  

Nvidia founder Chris Malachowsky, a UF alumnus, gave $25 million for the project, while Nvidia is offering $25 million in hardware, software, training and services.  UF will also invest $20 million for an AI-centric supercomputing and data center. 

The UF HiPerGator computer will integrate 140 Nvidia DCX A100 systems that are powered by 1,120 A11 Tensor Core GPUs.  There will also be 4 petabytes of storage and an Nvidia Mellanox HDR 200 Gb/s Infiniband network for fast throughput.  

Mallachowksy said the project will provide a blueprint for how other states can work with regional resources to bring the benefits of AI alive. He called Florida a “living laboratory for some of society’s most pressing issues.”

 RECENT: Tech firms grapple with diversity after George Floyd protests

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