IBM adds support for Google’s Tensorflow to its PowerAI machine learning framework

PowerAI is IBM’s machine learning framework for companies that use servers based on its Power processors and NVIDIA’s NVLink high-speed interconnects that allow for data to pass extremely quickly between the processor and the GPU that does most of the deep learning calculations. Today, the company announced that PowerAI now supports Google’s popular Tensorflow machine learning library.

While TensorFlow has only been available for a little over a year, it has quickly become the most popular open source machine learning project on GitHub. IBM’s PowerAI already supported other frameworks and libraries like CAFFETheano, Torch, cuDNN, and NVIDIA DIGITS, but Tensorflow support was sorely missing from this lineup.

IBM clearly sees the combination of PowerAI with Nvidia’s NVLink interface and Pascal P100 GPU accelerators as a way to differentiate itself from the competition — and in this case, the competition it is gunning for is clearly Intel (though it’s worth noting that Intel and Google also recently teamed up to improve TensorFlow performance on its CPUs).

IBM, of course, isn’t in the business of selling cheap servers, so the Power System S822LC for high-performance computing — the one machine that supports PowerAI — doesn’t even feature on a pricing chart. Prices for its commercial counterpart, though, start at just under $10,000.

In addition to TensorFlow support, IBM also today noted that it now supports Chainer, a framework for building neural networks.