Developers Can Soon Access The Microsoft Azure Supercomputer Used By Elon Musk

In August Microsoft launched a preview of an offering on its Azure public cloud platform that supports high-performance computing (HPC). Called Azure N-Series, the virtual machines are powered by NVIDIA GPUs and are already being used by Open AI, a non-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research organisation co-founded by Elon Musk.

Today at the Microsoft Australia Developer Conference in Sydney, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that developers will be able to make use of N-series virtual machines on Azure to run compute intensive workloads in the cloud. This means even small developer operations can have access to technology that is traditionally reserved for large enterprises. Here’s what you need to know.

“We’re not just building Azure to have just rich compute capabilities; we are, in fact, building the world’s first AI supercomputer,” Nadella told the audience at the Microsoft Australia Developer Conference.

He views AI as something that will be built into a swathe of digital offerings and the purpose of launching Azure N-series is to give even small-time developers the ability to integrate that technology into the software they create.

“By building support for these field-programmable gate array (FPGA), we’re making it possible for developers to create intelligence and overcome limitations of Moore’s Law,” Satya said. “Take your deep neural networks that you’re using to do computer vision, speech recognition or natural language processing; you can run them at silicon speed by really tapping into FPGA.

“The idea is now it’s available to every developer out there, it’s no longer [reserved for] just a few just supercomputers; it’s available to every developer.”

Azure N-series instances are powered by NVIDIA Tesla GPUs. The series is made up of NC-based virtual machines, for demanding workloads such as HPC and AI, and NV-based virtual machines that provide NVIDIA GRID capabilities on demand.

The N-Series will be generally available on December 1. You can find out more about the different virtual machine offerings in the series here. There’s no pricing for the N-series available for Australia just yet but once it launches in December, you’ll be able to find the pricelist here.

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