Intel and Lenovo Collaborate to Advance HPC and AI

Chip-maker Intel and leading computer manufacturer Lenovo this week announced a "multiyear collaboration" to leverage the convergence of high performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI). In a statement, Intel and Lenovo said the effort will span three areas of focus: systems and solutions, software optimization for HPC and AI convergence, and ecosystem enablement.

The systems and solutions effort will feature optimized designs for HPC and AI, building on the success of systems based on Intel second-generation Xeon Scalable processors and Lenovo's Neptune liquid-cooling architecture. The partnership will also apply leading Intel technologies like Xe GPUs, Optane DC persistent memory and Intel's oneAPI programming framework to Lenovo-built systems. Lenovo will leverage its pay-for-what-you-use TruScale Infrastructure Services for optimized datacenter deployments.

"Intel is laser-focused on helping our customers spur innovation and discovery through the convergence of AI with HPC," said Navin Shenoy, EVP and GM of Intel's Data Center Group. "Our extended collaboration with Lenovo combines the best of both companies' innovations to drive our customers' progress forward even faster."

The software optimization effort includes a plan to build out Lenovo's smarter software offerings, including optimizing the Lenovo Intelligent Computing Orchestration (LiCO) HPC/AI software stack for Intel's next-generation technologies, while aligning with the oneAPI framework. The collaboration also aims to enable Distributed Asynchronous Object Storage (DAOS) frameworks and other high performance software optimizations to advance the state of the art in HPC and AI

On the ecosystem side, Intel and Lenovo plan to build a series of joint "HPC & AI centers of excellence" worldwide. The facilities will support research and university centers as they address "some of the most pervasive world challenges, including genomics, cancer, weather and climate, space exploration and more," the companies said.

In a statement, Kirk Skaugen, EVP and president of Lenovo's Data Center Group, said: "Our goal is to further accelerate innovation into the Exascale era, aggressively waterfalling these solutions to scientists and businesses of all sizes to speed discovery and outcomes."

Exascale computing refers to computing systems capable of at least one quintillion (a billion billion) calculations per second.

The earlier decision to combine Intel's 2nd Gen Xeon Scalable platform with Lenovo's Neptune liquid cooling technology -- a joint engineering effort utilizing a unique combination of HPC IP from the two companies -- produced what can fairly be called remarkable results. According to Lenovo, 173 of the world's TOP500 fastest supercomputers in 19 markets run on Lenovo servers, and 17 of the world's top 25 research universities rely on Lenovo infrastructure.

"Lenovo's Neptune liquid cooling, in combination with the 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable platform, helps customers unlock new insights and deliver unprecedented outcomes at new levels of energy efficiency," Skaugen said.

Lenovo has built its datacenter business on its 2014 purchase of IBM's x86-based server business. The datacenter accounts for about a tenth of the Chinese PC maker's overall business, but revenues have begun growing at a brisk pace. According to IDC, the company ranked fourth in the worldwide server market at the end of 2018 (behind Dell, HPE/New H3C Group, and Inspur Power Systems), with a market share of 6.2%. But it generated $1.46 billion in server revenue in the fourth quarter of last year, which represents 34% growth, year over year.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.