Tencent gears up for greater GPU acceleration and AI possibilities with NVIDIA

Tencent’s cloud computing services will be beefed up with GPU accelerators from NVIDIA to ‘help advance artificial intelligence for enterprise customers’, the companies have announced.

The collaboration will include plugging Tencent’s cloud into NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture to connect multiple GPUs, as well as offering services incorporating Tesla P100, P40 and M40 GPU accelerators.

In other words, this means companies on Tencent’s cloud will be able to harness features such as facial recognition, machine learning and natural language processing through combining a more traditional CPU with a graphics processing unit. “GPU accelerators now power energy-efficient data centres in government labs, universities, enterprises, and small-and-medium businesses around the world,” NVIDIA notes. “They play a huge role in accelerating applications in platforms ranging from artificial intelligence to cars, drones and robots.”

NVIDIA added that during the first half of this year the servers will integrate up to eight GPU accelerators. The two companies’ collaboration goes as far back as December, launching GPU servers based on NVIDIA’s Tesla M40 GPUS and deep learning software last year.

“Tencent Cloud GPU offerings with NVIDIA’s deep learning platform will help companies in China rapidly integrate AI capabilities into their products and services,” said Tencent Cloud vice president Sam Xie in a statement. “Our customers will gain greater computing flexibility and power, giving them a powerful competitive advantage.”

If you want souped-up GPU goodness, then NVIDIA is the best place to go. Pretty much every major cloud player, as Karl Freund notes in Forbes, is utilising ‘GPUs as a service’. Take Amazon Web Services (AWS) as an example; at the higher end of its broad spectrum of capabilities on its cloud are P2 instances, launched in September last year for general purpose GPUs, with NVIDIA at the heart of it. Microsoft, Google and IBM – the rest of the ‘big four’ in cloud infrastructure – are also customers.

A report from Kantar Millward Brown earlier this month put Tencent as the most valuable brand in China, while a note from Gartner argued the country’s overall digital skills shortage could partly be attributed to the biggest companies hoovering up all the talent, citing Tencent with Baidu and Alibaba specifically.

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