Microsoft announced it has developed a supercomputer designed to train AI models. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

 

During the build developer conference on Tuesday, May 19th, 2020, Microsoft announced that it has developed one of the top five supercomputers in the world, which is designed to train OpenAI's artificial intelligence models. The supercomputer features over 285,000 CPU cores, 10,000 graphics processing units, and 400 gigabits per second of network connectivity for each GPU server. Microsoft says that compared to the TOP500 supercomputers in the world, the machine is ranked in the top-5 of that list.  According to OpenAI's charter, the company aims to build artificial general intelligence (AGI) that can outperform humans in all areas.

 

Last year, Microsoft and OpenAI announced a partnership to develop these systems, with Microsoft being the company to commercialize new AI technologies. Microsoft also funded $1 billion for the project. Additionally, the software giant is providing its AI models, such as the Turing AI models, to its business customers that aren't in need of supercomputers.

 

The Turing model can develop an understanding of language via "self-supervised learning." It enables the system to fill in missing parts of sentences based on words surrounding it using billions of informative pages from the internet, including Wikipedia, instruction manuals, and human resource guidelines. When it's successfully trained, this model will be capable of summarizing long speeches, moderating live chats, or generating code by searching on GitHub.

 

Microsoft admitted it was wrong about open-source, and ever since then, the company has been more involved in open-source projects. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

 

In a recent chat hosted by MIT's CSAIL, Microsoft's president Brad Smith admitted that the company was wrong about open source. "Microsoft was on the wrong side of history when open source exploded at the beginning of the century, and I can say that about me personally," said Smith.  Former CEO Steve Ballmer declared that "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches" in 2001.

 

Microsoft has changed its stance on open source ever since the company labeled Linux a cancer. They are now the biggest contributor to open source projects in the world, beating out Google, Facebook, Docker, Apache, and others. Over the past few years, Microsoft has been open-sourcing Visual Studio Code, PowerShell, and the initial version of Microsoft Edge's JavaScript engine. The software giant has also collaborated with Canonical to bring Ubuntu to Windows 10. Microsoft also acquired Xamarin to assist with mobile app development and GitHub to preserve the code repository for developers.

 

Additionally, Microsoft is releasing a full Linux kernel in a Windows 10 update sometime this month, and just last year, it switched to the Chromium browser engine for Edge. The company has collaborated with communities to develop PowerToys for Windows 10, and in the future, we may see a lot more open-source projects in Windows.

 

Microsoft will be releasing a full Linux kernel to Windows 10 with WSL 2 later this month. This will allow Linux GUI apps to run alongside Windows apps. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

 

Microsoft announced it will be releasing a full Linux kernel to Windows 10 with WSL 2 soon, adding GUI app support and GPU hardware acceleration to its Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Linux GUI apps will also be able to run alongside Windows apps.

 

Windows users will not need to use X11 forwarding to enable it, and it's designed for developers to run Linux IDEs alongside regular Windows apps.  Even though users could run Linux GUI apps through Windows using a 3rd party X-server, installation was difficult, and it often had poor graphic performance.  The added support for GPU hardware will help solve this issue.

 

Additionally, Windows 10 will receive added support for GPU hardware acceleration with Linux tools. This is mainly used for developmental scenarios that involve training both machine learning and AI models.

 

GPU hardware acceleration will start making an appearance in the upcoming months for Windows 10 Insiders in the Fast Ring. Microsoft is planning on releasing more details on the timing for Linux GUI app support later this year.

 

Windows Terminal 1.0 will eventually replace Command Prompt and PowerShell in Windows. It can also be used in Linux systems. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

 

After developing and adding updates to Windows Terminal preview, Microsoft released its open-source terminal application, Windows Terminal 1.0. The company originally announced Windows Terminal at Build 2019. Windows Terminal 1.0 is for developers who use PowerShell, Command Prompt, Azure Cloud Shell, and numerous WSL distributions, including Ubuntu. Terminal 1.0 consists of two packages, which include the Terminal stable build and the WindowsTerminalPreview. The preview can be installed alongside the stable version.  Users can download Windows Terminal from the Microsoft Store or manually from GitHub.

 

Starting in July 2020, Microsoft will be providing monthly updates to Windows Terminal. Developers can also test the latest features via the Windows Terminal preview channel that Microsoft will be launching later on. Beginning in June, the preview channel will have monthly updates. The goal of Windows Terminal is to eventually replace other command-line utilities, such as PowerShell and Command Prompt.

 

It will also be easier to install WSL via Windows Terminal, which can be done by using a single command "wsl.exe" in the command-line terminal. This will enable a specified WSL Linux distros to be automatically downloaded and installed when the system restarts. The feature will be available to Windows 10 users on the Windows Insiders Fast Ring in the next few months.

 

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