Software infuses AI into high-performance computing

30th September 2019
Posted By : Mick Elliott
Software infuses AI into high-performance computing

Simplifying the infusion of AI into high-performance computing is the purpose of Arrow Electronics using a new software platform ready to run on the BittWare 385A FPGA accelerator card. Arrow’s engineering team has created ready-to-use software modules in OpenCL that help users build custom engines for compute-intensive workloads in applications such as image processing and facial recognition.

As a standardised, open environment for parallel programming of heterogenous computing systems, which specifies standard programming languages and contains APIs, OpenCL ensures users can complete their projects quickly using familiar techniques.

The AI platform includes a compiler, which lets customers also create their own applications if desired. 

“BittWare is excited to be playing an active role in Arrow’s Testdrive program which is helping to grow the market for FPGA-based acceleration,” said Craig Petrie, vice-president of marketing for BittWare. “Our optimised BSPs for the Intel OpenCL SDK provides a familiar programming experience for software-orientated customers wishing to benefit from the performance improvements and energy-efficiencies achievable using Intel FPGA technology.” 

The modules are provided preloaded on the accelerator card and currently include vector addition, FFT and 2-dimensional FFT, edge detection, file transcoding, face detection, and Sobel edge detection.

The Arrow team continues to create new functions to extend support and accelerate adoption.

It is also in the process of integrating popular AI frameworks including Caffe and TensorFlow, leveraging OpenCL, to further assist convenient and efficient AI infusion.   

The BittWare 385A contains the Intel Arria 10 1150 GX FPGA, efficiently connected to the host via PCIe Gen 3 x8 and directly to two 40Gb Ethernet QSFP+ optical interfaces for off-board communication.

Architected for high throughput, the card contains two banks of 4-16GB DDR3 capable of up to 2133 MTransfer/s. The Arria 10 GX provides heterogeneous acceleration, combining hard floating-point DSP blocks with programmable logic fabric. 

The accelerator card comes with all demos loaded and supported by BittWare’s OpenCL HPC Board Support Package (BSP) and Intel FPGA OpenCL SDK to assist development. With Camera RealSense also loaded, it is ready to use out of the box. 

Arrow is providing easy access to the new AI platform through its unique Testdrive program, which lets customers evaluate development tools - choosing from the total of more than 2,000 currently available, including software, hardware, and specialised hand tools, at their own premises free of charge for up to 28 days. 

Interested customers can access the AI platform on Testdrive through Arrow`s sales and engineering teams.

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