Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, June 28, 2022

IBM Coils Anaconda Around Power Processor 


IBM, which recently extended support for the Anaconda data science platform to its open source mainframe, takes another step this week by offering the data platform on its Cognitive Systems platform in collaboration with Anaconda developer Continuum Analytics.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) also announced on Monday (April 17) the formation of a machine learning work group within the OpenPOWER Foundation. The new group, which includes Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), will help define machine-learning frameworks for both OpenPOWER and IBM's Power architecture.

Meanwhile, the closer coupling of Anaconda with IBM's cognitive platform will include integration with IBM's PowerAI software for machine and deep learning. The combination is touted as leveraging the IBM processor along with GPU acceleration for cognitive workloads. The company also noted that the collaboration with Continuum Analytics would help data scientists and developers to deploy and scale deep learning applications.

Among the goals of the collaboration is moving Anaconda deeper into enterprises and spurring adoption of machine and deep learning frameworks used to develop cognitive applications. IBM also is using the collaboration to promote its PowerAI software as a way for enterprises to deploy open source frameworks based on its Power architecture. Those frameworks can be "tuned for high performance," IBM noted, allowing the cognitive platform to handle commercial as well as hyper-scale workloads.

Optimizing Anaconda on the IBM architecture also gives developers access to libraries in the PowerAI platform for deploying the enterprise version of Anaconda, Travis Oliphant, co-founder and chief data scientist at Continuum Analytics, noted in a statement.

The cognitive platform is based on IBM's POWER8 architecture that includes a high-speed interface to Nvidia's Tesla Pascal P100 GPU accelerators. The high-bandwidth chip connections are designed to boost the performance of predictive analytics and deep learning applications, IBM said.

In February, IBM announced it was working with Anaconda developer Continuum Analytics, Austin, Texas, and Rocket Software, Waltham, Mass., to host the open source analytics platform on IBM z/OS mainframes. Last year, IBM and several partners collaborated to bring Apache Spark to it z System mainframe, allowing the open-source analytics framework to run natively on the company's mainframe operating system.

In announcing formation of the machine learning work group, IBM noted a roster of new OpenPOWER Foundation members, including Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), database specialist Kinetica, application management and developer automation vendor Bitfusion along with MapD Technologies. The database and analytics vendors are all using GPUs deep learning, AI and other analytics applications and platforms.

IBM's broader commitment to Anaconda illustrates how enterprise technology vendors are embracing open source platforms as they seek to move processing power closer to data sources. IBM is the latest tech giant to embrace the Anaconda stack. Continuum Analytics said last year that Anaconda also supports Intel Corp.'s (NASDAQ: INTC) math kernel library and Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ: MSFT) R Open for statistical analysis.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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