Velocity Meets Sustainability: Dr. Satoshi Matsuoka on the Way forward for AI and Supercomputing 



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One of the vital urgent challenges in advancing AI applied sciences is energy effectivity. Because the world grapples with the pressing want for sustainable options, the computing powerhouses behind giant AI fashions have come beneath scrutiny for his or her colossal power necessities. Right this moment’s giant language fashions (LLMs), for example, not solely eat a staggering quantity of energy throughout coaching however might require sufficient power for ongoing operations to rival the facility consumption of a small metropolis. Right this moment, the machines underpinning generative AI fashions are basically high-performance computer systems (HPC) or “supercomputers” architected for massively parallel processing. 

In response to Satoshi Matsuoka, Director of the RIKEN Heart for Computational Science, the symbiotic relationship between AI and HPC will solely deepen within the coming years. AI applied sciences will facilitate extra speedy developments in HPC, whereas supercomputers, in flip, will allow more and more superior AI algorithms. Dr. Matsuoka’s cutting-edge work consists of improvement of the Fugaku supercomputer, at the moment ranked No. 2 on the Top500 Record and is among the many world’s most effective machines of its caliber. Each Fugaku and the previous TSUBAME collection of supercomputers developed by Matsuoka function a testomony to the significance of HPC developments for extra energy-efficient AI.   

With the 2023 Worldwide Convention for Excessive Efficiency Computing, Networking, Storage, and Evaluation (SC23) quick approaching, we sat down with Dr. Matsuoka to debate the relationships between supercomputing energy effectivity and AI sustainability. Dr. Matsuoka shared insights on every little thing from how his group and the HPC business have superior effectivity in large-scale machines to the place he thinks essentially the most vital positive factors in energy effectivity will come from to why the SC convention is a must-attend occasion for anybody working on the reducing fringe of AI sustainability. 

A Highly effective Begin 

Dr. Matsuoka’s journey into the world of computing started in junior highschool, throughout the nascent days of the microprocessor revolution. He remembers his fascination with computing sprouting after encountering so-called 8-bit microprocessors and early house computer systems corresponding to Commodore PET and Apple II. “I began programming video games on borrowed machines and even made some cash from them. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than I used my earnings to purchase my very own machine,” Matsuoka shares with a touch of nostalgia.  

Satoshi Matsuoka, Director of the RIKEN Heart for Computational Science

Quick-forward to his faculty years, the place Matsuoka sharpened his sport programming abilities whereas additionally diving into finding out laptop science significantly and making use of his new discovered abilities into gaming corresponding to compilers and real-time programming for interactive video games. He earned his doctorate from the College of Tokyo in 1993, marking a major turning level in his profession. “Throughout my doctorate, we had been experimenting with connecting private computer systems over networks and growing software program for parallel programming. That turned my first analysis lab,” he explains.   

Dr. Matsuoka’s pioneering work in energy effectivity wasn’t born out of an preliminary tutorial focus, however reasonably out of real-world issues. Throughout his tenure at Tokyo Tech, the power workers took discover of his lab’s energy consumption, which almost matched that of a supercomputer that they had at their supercomputing facility. “They had been baffled and mentioned, ‘It’s not like you could have one other supercomputer in right here,’ however, in actuality, we had been fairly shut for that point,” Matsuoka says. As an alternative of ending his tasks, the college promoted him to full professor and entrusted him with overseeing the supercomputing facility at Tokyo Tech, setting the stage for his groundbreaking contributions to HPC. 

Making Essential Strides Towards Sustainability 

Relating to energy effectivity in supercomputers, Dr. Matsuoka recognized a major problem: energy consumption will increase linearly with every added node. As a easy illustration, if one node makes use of 300 watts, then 1,000 nodes would eat 30 kilowatts. Efficiency positive factors in fashionable supercomputers primarily come from including nodes and growing parallelism, supplemented by sooner processors and different technological developments. Contemplating this actuality, Matsuoka and his groups have needed to get artistic through the years. 

In 2010, Matsuoka’s group at Tokyo Tech achieved their first main energy effectivity breakthrough with the TSUBAME2.0 supercomputer. This adopted their 2006 success in creating TSUBAME1.0, which was the quickest supercomputer in Japan on the time. Given the college’s give attention to sustainability, the group aimed for a major speedup in TSUBAME2.0 whereas sustaining the identical energy profile as its predecessor. 

“With TSUBAME2.0, we achieved a 20x speedup on the similar energy consumption as TSUBAME1.0 by embracing new applied sciences like GPUs,” notes Matsuoka. “We’ve at all times aimed to establish and implement the very best applied sciences out there for our functions and general structure. Again then, GPUs provided glorious throughput and parallelism, however had been removed from being a confirmed expertise for high-performance computing.” 

Matsuoka notes that using GPUs in large-scale computing is now the usual however was groundbreaking on the time. Regardless of missing a blueprint for integrating 1000’s of GPUs, his group efficiently met the problem by programming improvements and new applied sciences. “We pioneered strategies to program GPUs and scale back energy necessities, which have since influenced GPU-based machines in high-performance cloud environments,” he says. 

All through the event of successive TSUBAME variations at Tokyo Tech. and the Fugaku supercomputer at RIKEN, Dr. Matsuoka has maintained a give attention to performance-per-watt rules. “My overarching profession objective has been to maximise efficiency inside given power and monetary constraints whereas being environmentally accountable,” states Matsuoka. 

Data Heart Cooling: A Hidden Vitality Hog 

Matsuoka factors out that cooling has traditionally been a significant energy drain in information facilities. “In some instances, greater than half of a knowledge middle’s 10-megawatt consumption went in direction of cooling,” he says. This led Matsuoka and his groups to discover extra environment friendly cooling programs from the times of TSUBAME1.0 onwards. “Cooling effectivity drove our supercomputer improvement over generations. We launched rack-level liquid cooling with TSUBAME2.0 then full liquid cooling for TSUBAME3.0, overcoming the challenges posed by its scale, which has since turn into a standard follow,” he provides. 

Placing the Progress into Perspective 

Right this moment’s main HPC programs are extra power environment friendly than smartphones on a performance-per-watt foundation. “The Fugaku supercomputer, with almost 160,000 nodes and over 7.5 million cores, is extra highly effective but way more environment friendly than the mixed compute energy of all of the smartphones offered in Japan final 12 months, or about 20 million models” Matsuoka asserts. 

Positive factors apart, even a 20-MW supercomputer will eat the equal energy of virtually 10,000 U.S. households. Furthermore, a hyperscaler cloud that incorporates supercomputers might eat the family energy equivalency of a small metropolis, so there may be nonetheless vital work to be achieved to enhance energy effectivity—particularly when you think about the numerous and rising calls for of AI workloads. 

Completely different Disciplines, Similar Underlying Sport 

Though fashionable AI methodologies have existed for years, they solely not too long ago have matured into sensible instruments with the potential to remodel society. Matsuoka attributes this development to the capabilities of recent supercomputers.  

“Ideas like deep studying had been developed a long time in the past, however the computer systems of that period lacked the horsepower to help the coaching and inference of those advanced fashions,” he explains. “Whereas information availability was additionally an element, the latest intersection of massive information with HPC programs has catalyzed the AI revolution. Right this moment, tech giants like Google, Amazon, OpenAI, and Microsoft function machines on par with essentially the most highly effective nationwide supercomputers devoted to scientific analysis.” 

Matsuoka highlights that the computational necessities for language and generative fashions have skyrocketed in simply the previous few years. This has led conventional HPC-focused distributors like NVIDIA to pivot towards AI. NVIDIA’s Tesla and subsequent A100 Tensor Core GPUs, for instance, have transitioned from being supercomputer accelerators to the go-to {hardware} for coaching large-scale neural networks, a job demanding immense parallelism. 

In response to Matsuoka, the boundaries between numerous computing disciplines are more and more blurring, thanks partly to developments in AI.  

“There was once clear demarcations between cloud computing and each classical and supercomputing. These strains at the moment are dissipating,” he says. “In as we speak’s panorama, corporations vie for the quickest and strongest supercomputers, resulting in a extra unified subject. Even HPC consultants from nationwide labs at the moment are being recruited by AI-focused distributors.”   

AI Meets HPC: A Symbiotic Relationship 

Amid the rising give attention to AI, Matsuoka predicts that societal demand for extra energy-efficient AI applied sciences will intensify shortly. He warns that if unchecked, the power consumption of AI might negate progress made in lowering carbon emissions in different sectors. Whereas he acknowledges that HPC and supercomputers are important for driving AI developments, Matsuoka additionally sees potential for AI to reciprocate by fostering improvements that would propel HPC ahead. As such, he’s desirous to see what synergies unfold.   

On the subject of energy effectivity, Matsuoka’s consideration is more and more shifting towards improvements in reminiscence expertise: “Most strategies to speed up GPUs are already well-understood, so future enhancements are more likely to focus much less on CPUs and GPUs and extra on enhancing the efficiency of the reminiscence and the interconnect cloth. Essentially the most promising avenues for lowering power consumption per information motion primarily lie in reminiscence applied sciences and packaging of chips, in addition to superior photonics utilized in interconnects, so I’m preserving a detailed eye on that area.” 

Get Forward of the Sustainability Curve with Insights from SC23 

For these enthusiastic about studying about energy effectivity in large-scale programs and the newest applied sciences propelling AI, Matsuoka extremely recommends the SC convention collection.  

“In case your group goals to be a frontrunner within the AI subject and is eager to remain up to date on cutting-edge analysis and expertise associated to high-performance computing, the SC convention is a useful useful resource,” he gives. “Main cloud suppliers typically ship their groups to the SC convention and even have exhibit cubicles there, for insights and connections into improvements related to parallel supercomputing—subjects which might be typically missed at mainstream AI occasions. The wealth of reveals and papers out there at SC can present a vital benefit for staying forward within the quickly evolving AI panorama.” 


Dive deep into performance-intensive computing at SC23, occurring from November 12-17, 2023, in Denver, Colorado. Be part of tech visionaries, collaborate with business leaders, and discover the way forward for expertise. 


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