The Czech Republic has a new supercomputer – a computer cluster for artificial intelligence research. The most powerful device for AI research in the country cost 41, 6 million CZK and is operated by the new Research Center for Informatics (RCI). It will be used for applications in robotics, bioinformatics, the development of cyber security applications, and the flee management of autonomous cars.
The Research Center for informatics is dedicated to excellence research in computer science and artificial intelligence. Its operation is financed from the Operational program „Research, Development and Education“ under the call „Excellent research“ with a total budget of 580 million CZK. Thanks to this grant, it was possible to build a powerful cluster, which is located in the underground floor of the historical building of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering CTU on Charles Square. In 2022, the center plans to upgrade the entire facility.
"We have an amazing opportunity to work on a common research goal across the university and shift the development of Czech computer science to an international level," explains prof. Michal Pěchouček, Head of RCI and the Department of Computer Science at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. He expects the academics from his center to advance research in machine learning, artificial intelligence, theoretical informatics, bioinformatics, high performance computing, big data, cyber security, or computer graphics. With the newly built computer cluster, revolutionary possibilities open up.
The cluster of such performance was very needed at CTU. “Research and experimental development of high-performance and scalable algorithms runs in three phasea. First, on personal computers for small data instances, then it is necessary to verify the correctness and scalability of algorithms on a sufficiently large cluster and then evaluate the efficiency and scalability on the world's largest supercomputers. The state-of-the-art architecture of the newly installed RCI cluster will enable researchers to effectively manage this second phase of the development of highly scalable algorithms, ”says prof. Pavel Tvrdík, head of the Department of Computer Systems at the Faculty of Information Technology.
The technical parameters of the device are admirable. "NVIDIA V100 Tensor Core GPU presents the most powerful accelerator for high performance computing and artificial intelligence. Total installed power over 6 PetaFLOPS makes the CTU installation currently the most powerful supercomputer for AI applications in the Czech Republic, ” says Rob Evans, EMEA Director for Supercomputing and AI at NVIDIA.
Putting such a powerful supercomputer into operation was not an easy task. „The entire installation took us six weeks, including the delivery of all hardware components, construction work, air conditioning installation and software startup,“ explains Petr Plodík from M Computers, who was in charge of implementing the cluster. „Building such a cluster in the center of Prague is quite unique. We had to create new wiring for power and cooling, and we also faced the limits of the local transformer station,“ he adds.
With the high cluster performance, RCI scientists will be able to do their research on deep learning methods that are key to artificial intelligence, such as applications for robotics, bioinformatics, cybersecurity, and flee control of autonomous cars without any limitations. And thanks to the whole RCI project, the Czech Republic will be able to compete in these areas with foreign universities and centers of excellence.