Continental powers up supercomputer for AI training

July 28, 2020 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Continental employs Nvidia supercomputer for AI training
Automotive supplier Continental has put a supercomputer into operation for AI training. The machine is based on Nvidia InfiniBand-connected DGX systems.

Continental’s supercomputer is built with more than 50 Nvidia DGX systems, connected with the Nvidia Mellanox InfiniBand network. It is ranked according to the publicly available list of TOP500 supercomputers as the top system in the automotive industry. A hybrid approach has been chosen to be able to extend capacity and storage through cloud solutions if needed.

The main task for the new supercomputer is AI training, Deep learning, simulation and virtual data generation. Advanced driver assistance systems use AI to make decisions, assist the driver and ultimately operate autonomously. Environmental sensors like radar and cameras deliver raw data. This raw data is being processed in real-time by intelligent systems to create a comprehensive model of the vehicle’s surroundings and devise a strategy on how to interact with the environment. Finally, the vehicle needs to be controlled to behave like planned. But with systems becoming more and more complex, traditional software development methods and machine learning methods have reached their limit. Deep Learning and simulations have become fundamental methods in the development of AI-based solutions.

With Deep Learning, an artificial neural network enables the machine to learn by experience and connect new information with existing knowledge, essentially imitating the learning process within the human brain. But while a child is capable of recognizing a car after being shown a few dozen pictures of different car types, several thousand hours of training with millions of images and therefore enormous amounts of data are necessary to train a neural network that will later on assist a driver or even operate a vehicle autonomously. The new supercomputer not only reduces the time needed for this complex process, it also reduces the time to market for new technologies.

The Nvidia supercomputer, a machine with an architecture specifically optimized for AI applications, helps the users to slash development time significantly; Continental talks of hours instead of weeks. “The system reduces the time to train neural networks, as it allows for at least 14 times more experiments to be run at the same time,” explains Christian Schumacher, head of Program Management Systems in Continental’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) business unit.

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