Microsoft Takes AI Real-Time

Virtual assistants need to respond to requests and search queries within a fraction of a second, so Microsoft engineers built a hardware acceleration platform code-named Project Brainwave designed to deliver on real-time artificial intelligence (AI).

This means the system brings events into the moment because it processes requests as fast as it receives them, thanks to Intel's Stratix 10 field programmable gate array (FPGA).

The semiconductor chip can process about 39.5 teraflops in machine-learning tasks within less than 1 millisecond of latency.

Microsoft's research team wants to bring real-time AI system to users in Azure, the software giant's cloud platform, so brands can benefit from Project Brainwave directly, but users of Bing and other services will feel the performance through indirect access, according to a post from Doug Burger, Microsoft engineer and lead on Azure’s configurable cloud architecture.

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The real-time AI build into the chip means advertising and marketing campaigns will improve the ability to capture the attention of consumers.

Marketers should understand how it works, what has slowed progress in the past, why Microsoft invested in the change, and that this move fits into the company's focus on artificial intelligence.

For starters, Project Brainwave is built on a high-performance distributed system architecture that reduces latency when processing requests. The chips have a "soft" deep neural network processing unit that allows Microsoft to maintain more flexibility on what it loads on the hardware, and quick response times bring events into the moment. 

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