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Cray joins big data team at U.S. research centre

Fri 8 Dec 2017

Supercomputing firm Cray has joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s big data research group to work on major scientific problems.

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), set up under the American energy department, is the country’s primary scientific computing facility, and also plays host to the Big Data Centre (BDC). This smaller organisation, established in August this year, is the group that Cray has joined.

Cray will help the Big Data Centre with its work on the Department of Energy’s main data-intensive science problems, by using the scale and performance of its XC40 computer. The XC40 lives at the NERSC and is nicknamed ‘Cori’ after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel prize for science.

Artificial intelligence, deep learning and data-intensive computing are also being developed at the centre, and Cray’s advanced, powerful computers are able to push this research forward.

“Cray’s deep expertise in systems, software, and scaling is critical in working towards the BDC mission of enabling capability applications for data-intensive science on Cori,” said Prabhat, director of the Big Data Center, and group lead for data and analytics services at NERSC.

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Most of the work that Cray will carry out at the centre will be focused on deep learning training algorithms, which improve modelling in massive data sets.

The centre will also be working on automated hyper-parameter tuning, which makes deep learning models better at predicting the future. This is used in research into fields such as climate change, which requires analysis of huge amounts of data.

“Cray and NERSC, working together with Intel and our IPCC academic partners, are well positioned to tackle the performance and scaling challenges of deep learning,” said Prabhat.

Per Nyberg, Cray’s senior director of artificial intelligence and analytics, said: “Deep learning is increasingly dependent on high performance computing, and as the leader in supercomputing, Cray is focused on collaborating with the innovators in AI to address present and future challenges for our customers.”

The BDC was set up as a collaboration between the NERSC, Intel, and five universities, three of which are in the U.S., with two in the UK, including the University of Oxford.


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