Monday, October 30, 2017
Nvidia at its GPU Technology Conference (GTC) Taiwan 2017 event on October 26 underscored its commitment to helping Taiwan jump start deep learning in an economy best known for its central role in tech's global supply chain.
Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang told a packed house of more than 1,300 in Taipei that the company is teaming up with Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to further the reach of artificial intelligence (AI) on an island whose tech sector has long been dominated by semiconductor and hardware giants such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry), Quanta Computer and Asustek Computer.
Huang and MOST announced an extensive partnership centered on creating Taiwan's first AI-focused supercomputer at the National Center for High-Performance Computing as a platform for accelerating advanced research.
Built on the Nvidia DGX AI computing platforms and Volta architecture-based GPUs, it aims to reach next year four petaflops of performance – placing it among the world's top-25 fastest supercomputers, and then expanding to 2.5x that size within four years.
Other areas of collaboration include hands-on training of 3,000 developers on leading applications of deep learning; rolling out Nvidia's Inception program for incubating AI and big-data startups; providing high-level internship opportunities for Taiwanese post-doctoral students; and supporting MOST's Project Moon Shot, AI Edge, focused on using AI to sharpen the domestic semiconductor market's competitive position.
Taiwan's Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-Gee also acknowledged that Taiwan has not established the entrepreneurial tradition of some of its neighbors. And, like many of them, has not made the kinds of strides in software that they have achieved in other fields of technology.
But, Chen said, the country will do better at teaching entrepreneurial skills and is now pursuing AI in earnest with its Grand Plan, unveiled in late summer, which will build off of its world-class expertise in manufacturing and education.
In conversation with reporters, when asked whether Taiwan could successfully catch up, given the lead established by the US and China, Huang noted that countries with less deep IT ecosystems have made great progress – Canada and the UK are major centers of AI research, and nations like Singapore are going all in on AI.
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