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NVIDIA and UF Infuse $70 Million (and Much More) to Build an AI Supercomputer for Higher Education

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NVIDIA has infused massive funding and a reinvigorated commitment to building the world’s fastest AI Supercomputer in Academia in partnership with the University of Florida; NVIDIA alumnus Chris Malachowsky and NVIDIA offer $25 million each to the project to create new opportunities in AI engineering for the underrepresented communities in the State of Florida and the US.

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Speakers at the webinar included:

  1. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
  2. NVIDIA Co-founder, President and CEO Jensen Huang
  3. Chris A. Malachowsky – Founder and NVIDIA Fellow
  4. Morteza “Mori” Hosseini – Chairman of the Board of Trustees – UF
  5. Damon L. Woodard – Associate Professor, University of Florida

Turning the State of Florida into a Living Laboratory of AI Studies

Apart from the $50 Million NVIDIA funding, the UF has also set aside an additional $20 million to co-develop an AI data center that would create the world’s fastest AI supercomputer in higher education. In a live webinar hosted by the UF, the NVIDIA leadership interacted with the media and AI academicians to unravel a string of objectives and milestones it has cast for the next 12 months. These include a well-funded public-private partnership with the UF’s campus development to strengthen the AI and Data Science community.

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The partnership would address some of the world’s most formidable challenges currently plaguing the AI R&D and its socio-economic impact. The aim of the newly-funded project is to open unprecedented access to AI training and tools for underrepresented communities and to build momentum for transforming the future of the workforce.

The part of the AI project at UF includes NVIDIA’s grant of DGX A100 systems, which are designed to accelerate diverse workloads, including AI training, inference, and data analytics. UF is the first public university in the US to receive such a package from NVIDIA. In addition to the DGX A100s, UF would also receive NVIDIA’s support to build its AI expertise through academic training and induction.

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The NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute will collaborate with UF on developing new curriculum and coursework for both students and the community, including programming tuned to address the needs of young adults and teens to encourage their interest in S.T.E.M. and A.I., better preparing them for future educational and employment opportunities.

Dr. Juan Gilbert, Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering at UF would lead the efforts towards establishing UF’s Equitable AI program. The UF Equitable AI program would bring together the best minds at the campus to create gold-standards and benchmarks in Ethical AI applications. The certification-based program would empower students and professionals to work together in formulating AI tools and solutions that are “cognizant of bias, unethical practice, and legal and moral issues.”

NVIDIA is expected to expand its Mellanox network fabric – SuperPOD to build the basic infrastructure for the AI age.

The Three Pillars of NVIDIA-UF collaboration

  1. Building the fastest AI Supercomputer machine for higher education
  2. Exploring new Human Intelligence capabilities for high-skilled operations
  3. Building a Public Research University to nurture AI talent (from underprivileged and underrepresented communities) for the UF R&D, the state and the country

The University of Florida has been at the edge of the AI revolution and supercomputer development. It has actively developed the storage and machinery required to build a cluster of the latest generation of processors that can perform hyper-speed memory-intensive computations. The core of this massive computing engine is the HiPerGator. HiPerGator’s high-performance storage systems can be accessed from diverse interfaces, including Globus, UFApps for Research, and other tools.

The University of Florida supercomputer is a cluster that includes the latest generation of processors and offers up nodes for memory-intensive computations.

Working closely with NVIDIA, UF will boost the capabilities of its existing supercomputer, HiPerGator, with the recently announced NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD™ architecture.

Currently, HiPerGator’s high-performance storage system is an advanced chip-controlled infrastructure that can free up AI researchers and Data Scientists from painful tasks of managing hardware and software applications. The new AI supercomputer would further extend capabilities on HiPerGator platform. This will give faculty and students within and beyond UF the tools to apply AI across a multitude of areas to improve lives, bolster industry, and create economic growth across the state of Florida.

AI Supercomputer and the Future of Data Science Applications

The AI supercomputer would be used to build the future of smart R&D focused at diverse industry specializations and domains. These include developing new-age applications for drug discovery through GPU designing, biomolecular research, Healthcare, Industrial automation and Robotics, the IoT, Computing, and Workplace Transformation.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Source: NVIDIA-UF webinar)

“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,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Governor Ron added, “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.”

Building an AI-Friendly Ecosystem with Public-Private Cooperation

NVIDIA’s dive into AI academia is a unique initiative. It is one of the largest independently-driven AI supercomputer development projects for higher education undertaken within a federal state, supported by the State o Florida administration.

NVIDIA-UF AI project is so easy to understand and replicate for others to follow the roadmap and elevate efforts through a holistic approach toward scientific research, teaching, and economic development. The interdisciplinary collaboration to ease deploying AI across the curriculum would address major challenges such as rising seas, aging populations, data security, personalized medicine, urban transportation, and food insecurity.

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Thanks to the fertile minds and visionaries at UF and NVIDIA who thought AI belongs to the world, and not to PhDs and Research Scholars alone, the world has a future to look forward to.

Chris Malachowsky says — “UF’s leadership has a bold vision for making artificial intelligence accessible across its campus. What really got NVIDIA and me excited was partnering with UF to go broader still and make AI available to K-12 students, state and community colleges, and businesses. This will help address underrepresented communities and sectors across the region where the technology will have a profound positive effect.”

NVIDIA’s AI Software Prowess at the Heart of Fastest Supercomputers

Currently, NVIDIA’s technology powers two-thirds of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers, including eight of the top 10. The third-generation HiPerGator will have access to NVIDIA’s most advanced AI software and integrate 140 NVIDIA DGX™ A100 systems with 1,120 NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs and high-performance NVIDIA Mellanox HDR 200Gb/s InfiniBand networking to deliver 700 petaflops of AI performance.

Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA said,

“Fueled by data and machine learning, AI is advancing at an exponential pace, impacting every industry from healthcare to transportation to the sciences. Through their generosity and vision, Chris and UF are providing a mighty foundation for students and faculty to harness this technology and drive discovery.”

Unleashing Imagination with NVIDIA AI Technology Center at UF

UF will become the site of the latest NVIDIA AI Technology Center, where UF Graduate Fellows and NVIDIA employees will work together to advance AI.

NVIDIA solution architects and product engineers will partner with UF on the installation, operation and optimization of the NVIDIA-based supercomputing resources on campus, including the latest AI software applications.

Expanding Research and Development Facilities with Hiring, and Investments into AI Labs

UF, supported by NVIDIA, would integrate AI and Data Science across all disciplines to co-develop and AI ecosystem within the academic enterprise. It will offer certificates and degree programs in AI and data science, with curriculum modules for specific technical and industry-focused domains. There are plans to hire 100 more faculty members focused on AI – joining the existing roster of 500 new faculty recently added across disciplines — many of whom will weave AI into their teaching and research.

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