UAlbany Becomes First School in the Nation to Adopt NVIDIA’s DGX Cloud

A row of supercomputing stacks inside UAlbany's state-of-the-art Data Center.
The university is utilizing the DGX Cloud AI supercomputing environment as it builds out an on-premises supercomputer in UAlbany's state-of-the-art Data Center.

By Michael Parker

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 7, 2023) — The University at Albany is adopting the NVIDIA DGX Cloud supercomputing to cater to the specialized needs of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning researchers, data scientists and faculty looking to accelerate their AI workloads and elevate their research programs.

UAlbany is the first institution of higher education that is using DGX Cloud AI supercomputing, providing the University with a critical asset to support its AI Plus initiative, which is integrating teaching and learning about AI across the University’s research and academic enterprise.

The $200 million public-private AI Plus initiative is strengthening the University’s programmatic and research capacity in fields such as cybersecurity, weather prediction, health data analytics, drug discovery and next-generation semiconductor design. It will also foster collaborations across the humanities, social sciences, public policy and public health. The university is utilizing NVIDIA DGX Cloud AI supercomputing as it builds out an on-premises supercomputer in UAlbany's state-of-the-art Data Center.

As part of the initiative, UAlbany has also hired 18 new faculty members who began teaching this fall specializing in artificial intelligence. The hires are part of an unprecedented hiring push to add 49 new faculty, including 27 who specialize in artificial intelligence-related disciplines as part AI Plus. The hires will include a new director of the AI Plus institute, a hub for interdisciplinary AI research involving faculty from across campus. Searches for the remaining 10 positions are still underway.

“We’re accelerating our mission to infuse AI into virtually every academic and research discipline,” said Thenkurussi (Kesh) Kesavadas, vice president for research and economic development at UAlbany. “The DGX Cloud platform provided through NVIDIA will help us continue to drive advances in healthcare, security and economic competitiveness, while equipping students for roles in the evolving job market.”

“Industries will have an increasing need for AI talent, and universities are the key to leading the transformation by creating new programs and training the next generation of students,” said Charlie Boyle, the vice president of DGX systems at NVIDIA. “The investments made by the University of Albany in NVIDIA DGX Cloud will help create groundbreaking research and shape students to bring transformative AI skills into the workplace.”

UAlbany’s DGX Cloud instances leverage NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs, which are optimized for deep learning and scientific computing, enabling users to train complex neural networks faster and more efficiently.

a student listens during a presentation at UAlbayn's xCite Lab.
The DGX platform through NVIDIA will help UAlbany continue to drive research and academic efforts in fields such as artificial intelligence, healthcare and data analytics. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

DGX Cloud also comes with a comprehensive stack of AI and deep learning software pre-installed, making it easier for users to start their projects without the hassle of setting up and maintaining software and hardware environments. It includes NVIDIA AI Enterprise software, including NVIDIA NeMo for generative AI large language models, and popular deep learning frameworks such as TensorFlow, PyTorch and CUDA — all of which will be readily available to faculty and their research groups.

UAlbany researchers will also be able to scale their computational resources to handle both small-scale experiments and large-scale AI training jobs.

”This scalability ensures optimal flexibility for UAlbany faculty and students looking to harness the power of AI,” said Brian Heaton, UAlbany’s chief information officer.

UAlbany’s DGX Cloud includes four instances with eight A100 GPUs each for a total of 32 A100 GPUs and a petabyte of all-flash performance storage.

Concurrently, UAlbany is continuing to build out its own supercomputing cluster. The first phase of the initiative, to be completed in 2024, includes:

  • 24 NVIDIA DGX A100 systems (each with 8 NVIDIA A100 GPUs)
  • 3 Lambda scalers (each with 8 NVIDIA L40s GPUs)
  • More than 5 petabytes of NetApp storage (1.34 PB all-flash performance storage and 3.75 PB additional capacity storage)

UAlbany is also working with additional partners to advance its AI offerings for all faculty for the spring 2024 semester. These resources are expected to exceed the University’s current on-premises offering and provide advanced resources while the AI cluster is being installed.

This includes the recently announced Center for Emerging Artificial Intelligence Systems (CEAIS), a $20 million collaboration between UAlbany and IBM that will power new AI research projects with the help of advanced cloud computing and emerging hardware out of the IBM Research AI Hardware Center.

The new research collaboration was announced by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul at the inaugural SUNY AI Symposium, which convened leading AI researchers from across the State University of New York (SUNY), and featured a keynote address by Mukesh V. Khare, GM, IBM Semiconductors and VP, Hybrid Cloud at IBM Research.

Hochul, joined by SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr., also unveiled a new SUNY AI Research Group that will help guide SUNY’s strategy for pursuing AI research, education, policy, and workforce development. The group includes Kesavadas and Associate Professor Jason D'Cruz of the Philosophy Department.