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AMD opens wallet to lure scientific computing boffins away from Nvidia's CUDA onto its Instinct accelerators

Only academics, researchers, nonprofits need apply to AIER initiative

AMD has rolled out a programme that it hopes will tempt scientific computing types away from Nvidia and the CUDA ecosystem and onto its own Instinct accelerator range and ROCm run-anywhere software platform: the AMD Instinct Education and Research (AIER) initiative.

"At AMD, we're committed to engineering the best products and tools to make that happen – and the new AMD Instinct Education and Research (AIER) initiative makes those innovations easy to access," claimed AMD senior product marketing manager Guy Ludden of the programme's launch.

"If you're looking for ways to solve big challenges, make discoveries, analyse more data, or make better decisions faster, taking part in the AIER Initiative can give you access to the resources you need to get the job done."

Unveiled at the ISC HPC 2021 conference this week, AIER is aimed at convincing academics to jump across to AMD's high-performance computing product lines. Membership is free, but limited: only "academics, researchers, and scientists working at higher education universities or institutions, along with non-profit organisations" are invited.

The initiative appears positioned to pull users away from rival Nvidia's CUDA platform for general-purpose GPU offload and towards AMD's Instinct family of GPU-based accelerators. Back in November, AMD launched the Instinct MI100 accelerator, described by corporate VP Brad McCredie as "designed to provide scientists and researchers a superior foundation for their work in HPC."

While McCredie didn't specifically name Nvidia as the inferior foundation, some have inferred it.

Once approved for the AEIR initiative, members receive access to a range of support services from code validation and certification through to community-driven support forums, workload containers, and tutorial walkthroughs demonstrating just how to get started with what will be for most an unfamiliar environment.

There's one resource that may tempt interested parties into signing up more than the others, however: cold hard cash. In an apparent indication that AMD is putting its money where its mouth is to take on Nvidia in the high-performance computing arena, the AIER initiative documentation included the promise that "AMD often provides grants and/or hardware discounts for our academic and research colleagues" – though stopped short of promising payouts for members.

"High performance computing is critical to addressing the world's biggest and most important challenges," crowed AMD's senior VP Forrest Norrod in a canned statement.

"With our AMD Epyc processor family and Instinct accelerators, AMD continues to be the partner of choice for HPC. We are committed to enabling the performance and capabilities needed to advance scientific discoveries, break the exascale barrier, and continue driving innovation."

The announcement came as AMD celebrated an increasing presence in the TOP500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers, with its processors driving five times more systems than at this time last year – though it still powers less than 10 per cent of the listed systems, compared to rival Intel's 86.2 per cent.

Interested parties can find out more about the AIER initiative, which has Dell, Gigabyte, HPE, and Supermicro as its industry partners, here. ®

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