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Nvidia and University of Florida Collaborate on Super Computer

The University of Florida (UF) and graphics processing chip manufacturer Nvidia unveiled plans this week to build the fastest artificial intelligence (AI) supercomputer in the world of academia, with the promise of delivering 700 petaflops of AI performance.

The public-private partnership will "catapult UF's research strength to address some of the world's most formidable challenges, create unprecedented access to AI training and tools for underrepresented communities, and build momentum for transforming the future of the workforce," the university said in a statement.

The aim of the initiative is to create an AI-centric datacenter that houses the world's fastest AI supercomputer in higher education. Working with Nvidia, UF plans to boost the capabilities of its existing supercomputer, HiPerGator, with Nvidia's recently announced DGX SuperPOD reference architecture, which provides a blueprint for assembling a supercomputing infrastructure capable of powering AI research and development. The system will be up and running by early 2021, the university said.

In its statements about this initiative, UF officials have emphasized their goal of ensuring that "no community is left behind. UF plans to promote wide accessibility to these new computing capabilities, they have said.

"With AI holding the potential to revolutionize education and research – and indeed every sector of society – the University of Florida will work to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the center of this transformational change," said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, in a statement. "We're thrilled UF is demonstrating such national leadership and placing community engagement and training a 21st Century workforce at the heart of its mission."

The university plans to establish UF's Equitable AI program, "to bring faculty members across the university together to create standards and certifications for developing tools and solutions that are cognizant of bias, unethical practice and legal and moral issues." And it plans to partner with the enterprise and other academic groups, such as the Inclusive Engineering Consortium, whose students will work with members to conduct research and recruitment to UF graduate programs.

According to the university, the initiative is supported by $25 million contributed by UF alumnus and Nvidia co-founder Chris Malachowsky and $25 million in hardware, software, training, and services contributed by Nvidia. UF is also investing $20 million to the initiative.

"We've created a replicable, powerful model of public-private cooperation for everyone's benefit," Malachowsky said during an online press event.

"The partnership here with the UF, the state of Florida, and Nvidia, anchored by Chris' generous donation, goes beyond just money," said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, another co-founder, along with Malachowsky and Curtis Priem. "We are excited to contribute NVIDIA's expertise to work together to make UF a national leader in AI and help address not only the region's, but the nation's challenges."

"This incredible gift from Chris and Nvidia will propel the state of Florida to new heights as it strives to be an economic powerhouse, an unrivaled leader in job creation ,and an international model of 21st-century know-how," said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in a statement. "Over the coming years, tens of thousands of University of Florida graduates with this unique AI-oriented background will create their futures and ours, transforming our workforce and virtually every field and every industry here in Florida and around the world."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at jwaters@converge360.com.


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