How hole core fiber is accelerating AI  

How hole core fiber is accelerating AI  
How hole core fiber is accelerating AI  

One among these applied sciences that was highlighted at Microsoft Ignite this previous November was Hole Core Fiber, an revolutionary optical fiber that’s set to optimize the Microsoft Azure world cloud infrastructure, providing superior community high quality and safe knowledge transmission.

This weblog is a part of the ‘Infrastructure for the period of AI’ sequence that focuses on rising expertise and tendencies in large-scale computing. This piece dives deeper into considered one of our latest applied sciences, hole core fiber (HCF). 

AI is on the forefront of individuals’s minds, and improvements are occurring at lightning velocity. However to proceed the tempo of AI innovation, firms want the appropriate infrastructure for the compute-intensive AI workloads they’re attempting to run. That is what we name ‘purpose-built infrastructure’ for AI, and it’s a dedication Microsoft has made to its prospects. This dedication doesn’t simply imply taking {hardware} that was developed by companions and putting it in its’ datacenters; Microsoft is devoted to working with companions, and infrequently by itself, to develop the most recent and biggest expertise to energy scientific breakthroughs and AI options. 

One among these applied sciences that was highlighted at Microsoft Ignite in November was hole core fiber (HCF), an revolutionary optical fiber that’s set to optimize Microsoft Azure’s world cloud infrastructure, providing superior community high quality, improved latency and safe knowledge transmission. 

Transmission by air 

HCF expertise was developed to satisfy the heavy calls for of workloads like AI and enhance world latency and connectivity. It makes use of a proprietary design the place mild propagates in an air core, which has important benefits over conventional fiber constructed with a strong core of glass. An attention-grabbing piece right here is that the HCF construction has nested tubes which assist scale back any undesirable mild leakage and preserve the sunshine getting in a straight path by way of the core.  

Azure blog abstract

As mild travels sooner by way of air than glass, HCF is 47% sooner than customary silica glass, delivering elevated general velocity and decrease latency. It additionally has the next bandwidth per fiber, however what’s the distinction between velocity, latency and bandwidth? Whereas velocity is how rapidly knowledge travels over the fiber medium, community latency is the period of time it takes for knowledge to journey between two finish factors throughout the community. The decrease the latency, the sooner the response time. Moreover, bandwidth is the quantity of knowledge that’s despatched and obtained within the community. Think about there are two automobiles travelling from level A to level B setting off on the similar time. The primary automobile is a automotive (representing single mode fiber (SMF)) and the second is a van (HCF). Each automobiles are carrying passengers (which is the info); the automotive can take 4 passengers, whereas the van can take 16. The automobiles can attain completely different speeds, with the van travelling sooner than the automotive. This implies it’ll take the van much less time to journey to level B, subsequently arriving at its vacation spot first (demonstrating decrease latency).  

For over half a century, the trade has been devoted to creating regular, but small, developments in silica fiber expertise. Regardless of the progress, the positive aspects have been modest because of the limitations of silica loss. A big milestone with HCF expertise was reached in early 2024, attaining the bottom optical fiber loss (attenuation) ever recorded at a 1550nm wavelength, even decrease than pure silica core single mode fiber (SMF). 1 Together with low attenuation, HCF gives increased launch energy dealing with, broader spectral bandwidth, and improved sign integrity and knowledge safety in comparison with SMF. 

The necessity for velocity 

Think about you’re enjoying an internet online game. The sport requires fast reactions and split-second selections. You probably have a high-speed reference to low latency, your actions within the sport can be transmitted rapidly to the sport server and to your mates, permitting you to react in actual time and luxuriate in a clean gaming expertise. Alternatively, if in case you have a gradual reference to excessive latency, there can be a delay between your actions and what occurs within the sport, making it tough to maintain up with the fast-paced gameplay. Whether or not you’re lacking key motion instances or lagging behind others, lagging is extremely annoying and might severely disrupt gameplay. Equally, in AI fashions, having decrease latency and high-speed connections may also help the fashions course of knowledge and make selections sooner, bettering their efficiency. 

Decreasing latency for AI workloads

So how can HCF assist the efficiency of AI infrastructure? AI workloads are duties that contain processing giant quantities of knowledge utilizing machine studying algorithms and neural networks. These duties can vary from picture recognition, pure language processing, pc imaginative and prescient, speech synthesis, and extra. AI workloads require quick networking and low latency as a result of they typically contain a number of steps of knowledge processing, corresponding to knowledge ingestion, preprocessing, coaching, inference, and analysis. Every step can contain sending and receiving knowledge from completely different sources, corresponding to cloud servers, edge units, or different nodes in a distributed system. The velocity and high quality of the community connection have an effect on how rapidly and precisely the info might be transferred and processed. If the community is gradual or unreliable, it may well trigger delays, errors, or failures within the AI workflow. This may end up in poor efficiency, wasted sources, or inaccurate outcomes. These fashions typically want big quantities of processing energy and ultra-fast networking and storage to deal with more and more refined workloads with billions of parameters, so finally low latency and high-speed networking may also help velocity up mannequin coaching and inference, enhance efficiency and accuracy, and foster AI innovation. 

Serving to AI workloads in all places

Quick networking and low latency are particularly necessary for AI workloads that require real-time or near-real-time responses, corresponding to autonomous automobiles, video streaming, on-line gaming, or sensible units. These workloads have to course of knowledge and make selections in milliseconds or seconds, which implies they can’t afford any lag or interruption within the community. Low latency and high-speed connections assist make sure that the info is delivered and processed in time, permitting the AI fashions to offer well timed and correct outcomes. Autonomous automobiles exemplify AI’s real-world utility, counting on AI fashions to swiftly determine objects, predict actions, and plan routes amid unpredictable environment. Fast knowledge processing and transmission, facilitated by low latency and high-speed connections, allow close to real-time decision-making, enhancing security and efficiency. HCF expertise can speed up AI efficiency, offering sooner, extra dependable, and safer networking for AI fashions and purposes. 

Regional implications 

Past the direct {hardware} that runs your AI fashions, there are extra implications. Datacenter areas are costly, and each the gap between areas, and between areas and the client, make a world of distinction to each the client and Azure because it decides the place to construct these datacenters. When a area is situated too removed from a buyer, it ends in increased latency as a result of the mannequin is ready for the info to go to and from a middle that’s additional away.

If we take into consideration the automotive versus van instance and the way that pertains to a community, with the mixture of upper bandwidth and sooner transmission velocity, extra knowledge might be transmitted between two factors in a community, in two thirds of the time. Alternatively, HCF gives longer attain by extending the transmission distance in an current community by as much as 1.5x with no impression on community efficiency. Finally, you possibly can go an additional distance on the similar latency envelope as conventional SMF and with extra knowledge. This has big implications for Azure prospects, minimizing the necessity for datacenter proximity with out growing latency and lowering efficiency. 

The infrastructure for the period of AI 

HCF expertise was developed to enhance Azure’s world connectivity and meet the calls for of AI and future workloads. It gives a number of advantages to finish customers, together with increased bandwidth, improved sign integrity, and elevated safety. Within the context of AI infrastructure, HCF expertise can allow quick, dependable, and safe networking, serving to to enhance the efficiency of AI workloads. 

As AI continues to evolve, infrastructure expertise stays a vital piece of the puzzle, guaranteeing environment friendly and safe connectivity for the digital period. As AI developments proceed to put extra pressure on current infrastructure, AI customers are more and more in search of to learn from new applied sciences like HCF, digital machines just like the just lately introduced ND H100 v5, and silicon like Azure’s personal first companion AI accelerator, Azure Maia 100. These developments collectively allow extra environment friendly processing, sooner knowledge switch, and finally, extra highly effective and responsive AI purposes. 

Sustain on our “Infrastructure for the Period of AI” sequence to get a greater understanding of those new applied sciences, why we’re investing the place we’re, what these developments imply for you, and the way they allow AI workloads.   

Extra from the sequence


1 Hollow Core DNANF Optical Fiber with <0.11 dB/km Loss

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