Like artificial intelligence itself, the AI startup SambaNova is interesting across the stack. SambaNova has made the news for a number of reasons: high-profile founders, a series of funding rounds propelling it into unicorn territory, impressive AI chip technology and unconventional choices in packaging it. The company is now executing on its goal -- to enable AI disruption in the enterprise. SambaNova just announced its GPT-as-a-service offering, its ELEVAITE membership program for customers, and is working with one of the biggest banks in Europe to build what it claims will be Europe's fastest AI supercomputer. We connected with SambaNova CEO and co-founder Rodrigo Liang to talk about all that, plus one of our favorite topics: graphs and how they underpin SambaNova's offering.
In what may be a first, an Eastern European bank is teaming up with the government of Hungary to field an AI supercomputer that will be used to create a large language model of the Hungarian language. OTP Bank, which was founded in Hungary and operates banks across the region, worked out an agreement under which the government provides about half the funding for the supercomputer developed under contract with SambaNova Systems. The government will have access to the system for public and academic research, said Péter Csányi, deputy CEO and head of the digital division at OTP. The contract with SambaNova Systems capitalizes on the Generative Pretrained Transformer (GPT) for generating large language models that SambaNova announced in October, branding it as dataflow-as-a-service. "Building a system like this to run a GPT model is not something any bank has done before," said Marshall Choy, VP of product at SambaNova.
SambaNova says just one quarter of a rack's worth of its DataScale computer can replace 64 separate Nvidia DGX-2 machines taking up multiple racks of equipment, when crunching various deep learning tasks such as natural language processing tasks on neural networks with billions of parameters such as Google's BERT-Large. The still very young market for artificial intelligence computers is spawning interesting business models. On Wednesday, SambaNova Systems, the Palo Alto-based startup that has received almost half a billion dollars in venture capital money, announced general availability of its dedicated AI computer, the DataScale and also announced an as-a-service offering where you can have the machine placed in your data center and rent its capacity for $10,000 a month. "What this is, is a way for people to gain quick and easy access at an entry price of $10,000 per month, and consume DataScale product as a service," said Marshall Choy, Vice President of product at SambaNova, in an interview with ZDNet via video. "I'll roll a rack, or many racks, into their data center, I'll own and manage and support the hardware for them, so they truly can just consume this product as a service offering."
SambaNova Systems is a technology startup founded in 2017 by a group of far-sighted engineers and data scientists who saw that the current approaches to AI and machine learning were beginning to run out of steam, and that an entire new architecture would be necessary in order to make AI accessible for everyone as well as deliver the scale, performance, accuracy and ease of use needed for future applications. AI and machine learning in particular have grown over the past decade to become key tools for processing and making sense of large and complex data sets. This trend is set to continue, with IDC forecasting that the overall AI software market will approach $240 billion in revenue in 2024, up from $156 billion in 2020. But AI is no longer just for supercomputing. The volumes of data collected by organizations have become large and complex data sets, leading to machine learning being incorporated into all manner of applications from natural language processing (NLP), high-resolution computer vision, recommendations and high performance computing (HPC) to everyday business processes.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has installed a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) accelerator from SambaNova Systems, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced today, allowing researchers to more effectively combine AI and machine learning (ML) with complex scientific workloads. LLNL has begun integrating the new AI hardware, SambaNova Systems DataScale, into the NNSA's Corona supercomputing cluster, an 11-plus petaFLOP machine that Lab scientists are using to conduct fusion energy research for stockpile stewardship applications, find therapeutics for COVID-19 and perform other unclassified basic science work. Lab researchers said the upgrade will allow them to run scientific simulations on the Corona system while offloading AI calculations from those simulations to the SambaNova DataScale system, improving overall speed, performance and productivity. "This integration enables low-latency communication between the two devices allowing them to operate in tandem with greater overall efficiency," said LLNL computer scientist Ian Karlin, who heads the SambaNova project. "In addition, scientific simulations running on Corona will feed data as they run into the SambaNova DataScale system to train new machine learning models based on their results."