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US Postal Service To Use Nvidia GPU Servers For AI Mail Processing

'They believe that by using GPUs from Nvidia, by using software we have enabled over the last 10 years, and [by using] servers from both HPE and Dell, they're going to be able to process data 10 times faster and with higher accuracy,' Nvidia exec Anthony Robbins says of the federal artificial intelligence project.

The U.S. Postal Service is making a big bet on Nvidia's data center GPUs to accelerate the agency's mail processing and sorting workflows with the power of artificial intelligence.

Nvidia announced Tuesday at its GTC conference in Washington, D.C. that the Postal Service will purchase GPU-accelerated servers from Hewlett Packard Enterprise for a spring 2020 deployment, which is expected to accelerate package data processing by a magnitude of 10 (Shown in above photo: Ian Buck, GM and Vice President of accelerated computing for Nvidia).

[Related: Nvidia CEO: Enterprise AI Is Driving Growth In The Data Center]

An earlier version of Nvidia's press release mentioned Dell EMC as the project's other server vendor, but the company was removed in the final version of the release. However, a Dell EMC spokesperson confirmed to CRN that the company is participating in the project without providing further details.

The project will include HPE's Apollo 6500 servers, which come with up to eight Nvidia GPUs for deep learning and high-performance computing workloads, according to an HPE spokesperson. The Postal Service will also use Nvidia's EGX edge computing systems at nearly 200 of its processing locations in the U.S.

The Postal Service will use servers powered by Nvidia's V100 Tensor Core GPUs and deep learning software in its data centers to train multiple AI algorithms. Those algorithms will then be deployed in EGX systems at the Postal Service's package processing sites.

One of the first use cases will involve improving the speed and accuracy of recognizing package labels, which will improve the speed of package delivery and reduce the need for human involvement, according to Nvidia.

Anthony Robbins, vice president of Nvidia's federal sector business, said Nvidia's GPUs are uniquely equipped to efficiently process the Postal Service's vast amount of mail, which comes out to as much as 485 million pieces of mail a day and 146 billion a year.

"We're delighted to be a part of how they bring AI to package data processing," he said in a call with journalists. "They believe that by using GPUs from Nvidia, by using software we have enabled over the last 10 years, and [by using] servers from both HPE and Dell, they're going to be able to process data 10 times faster and with higher accuracy."

Robbins said the Postal Service's decision to use GPU-based acceleration underscores how Moore's law is "creating challenges for the ability of CPUs to keep up with processing the worlds data.” It also underlines the federal government's wider push for AI solutions across multiple agencies and departments.

"What we see now across the entire federal government is a move to try to accelerate the development and deployment of AI for citizen services," he said.

With the Postal Service planning to utilize on-premises servers and edge servers for the project, Robbins said it represents how enterprises are taking a hybrid approach to modern IT infrastructure.

"The enterprise of the future will balance between cloud, on-prem and edge processing and Nvidia is making GPUs available in our software stack in all areas," he said.

Edge, in particular, will be a major source of growth in the near future — an area in which Nvidia hopes will boost sales of its EGX platform that was introduced earlier this year.

"Those edge processing requirements are growing dramatically and will grow substantially once we get to 5G," Robbins said.

Although the new on premises and edge servers are being deployed by HPE and Dell directly, the deal will create major services opportunities for channel partners because of how the infrastructure will need to be managed,said Robbins.

"I would imagine there would be a range of companies that provide the services here," he said, which could include value-added resellers within the Nvidia Partner Network.

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