4 min read

NumPy v1.14, Baidu’s Blockchain as a service, new insights on Intel’s Nervana NNP, and more in today’s top stories around machine learning, blockchain, and data science news.

1. The highly anticipated NumPy 1.14 released

NumPy a popular library for Python, updates to version 1.14. The new update contains a large number of bug fixes and new features, along with several changes with potential compatibility issues. A major feature includes stylistic changes in the way numpy arrays and scalars are printed. Here are the top highlights:

  • The np.einsum function uses BLAS (Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms) when possible.
  • genfromtxt, loadtxt, fromregex and savetxt can now handle files with arbitrary python supported encoding.
  • Major improvements to printing of NumPy arrays and scalars.

There are also four new functions introduced.

  • parametrize: decorator added to numpy.testing.
  • chebinterpolate: Interpolate function at Chebyshev points.
  • format_float_positional and format_float_scientific : format floating-point scalars unambiguously with control of rounding and padding.
  • PyArray_ResolveWritebackIfCopy and PyArray_SetWritebackIfCopyBase: new C-API functions useful in achieving PyPy compatibility.

The complete changelog can be viewed in the NumPy GitHub repo.

2. Baidu launches BaaS (Blockchain as a Service) open platform

Baidu has launched a new Blockchain as a Service platform. The news came soon after Tencent, another Chinese tech giant announced its BaaS platform, a couple of months ago. According to the Baidu BaaS website, the blockchain open platform will customize and flexibly configure the attributes, modules, and mechanisms of the blockchain according to the actual business scenario of the enterprise. It supports real-time block writing and query with high concurrency and low latency, and supports multiple replications, multi-instance deployment, and ensures data consistency through consistency algorithm. It ensures safety with the use of asymmetric encryption, signature, certificate authentication, audit nuclear, access control, and other technical solutions, to guarantee data security.

3A blockchain-powered open multimedia delivery platform by Snap Interactive

Snap Interactive, a leading provider of live video social networking applications building on blockchain and other innovative technologies, today announced that it is developing an open source, multimedia delivery platform. This platform will combine STVI’s live streaming video, voice and data routing capabilities with the enhanced security, scalability and cost-effectiveness of blockchain technology.

The platform is expected to:

  • Specialize in routing live, rich media content and powering applications that require real time data and video communications
  • Host Backchannel, STVI’s secure video messaging app, which is planned to launch in 2018. This app is anticipated to enable third-party developers for building next-gen social networking, messaging, group collaboration and live video streaming apps using the Company’s blockchain-based services.
  • Provide the developer community with the opportunity to make use of company’s expertise in live video delivery and its recent investment in blockchain infrastructure to enable decentralized media routing.
  • Offer the potential for superior security, scalability and cost efficiency, with token-based incentives, which will drive a large community of contributors of bandwidth and computing resources

This decentralized platform is a horizontal extension of the best-of-breed NEM blockchain protocol.

4. The Nervana Intel chip moves from codename to actual product

Intel recently announced few insights about its soon to be released Nervana Neural Network Processor (NNP). This AI-based chip was previously code-named as Lake Crest. It is built on a unique architecture, which is designed from the ground up in order to speed up the neural network training and AI modeling.

Though complete details of the Intel NNP is yet unknown, we shed some light on the NNP chip architecture:

  • It is a custom ASIC with a Tensor-based architecture placed on a multi-chip module (MCM) along with 32GB of HBM2 memory
  • Each AI accelerator features 12 processing clusters which are paired with 12 proprietary inter-chip links, four HBM2 memory controllers, a management-controller CPU, as well as standard SPI, I2C, GPIO, PCI-E x16, and DMA I/O.
  • Each processing element has more than 2MB of local memory, is software controlled and can communicate with each other using hi-speed bi-directional links. The Nervana NNP has 30MB in total of local memory.

The processor is designed to be highly configurable, meeting both mode and data parallelism goals.

To know about more features in detail, visit the official Intel NNP link here.

5. A new way to optimize MySQL database performance

The IT operations and maintenance developers have found a new way to improve MySQL database performance. Optimizing MySQL database performance has always been a pain point for database administrators, especially in heavy demand public cloud services. According to a report by inside HPC, compiling the MySQL source code using the Intel C++ Compiler, the database performance is improved by 35% as compared with other compilers. This is made possible using Intel’s Interprocedural Optimization feature (IPO). With IPO, the compiler performs a multistep whole-program analysis across functions and procedures and multiple source files. This gives the compiler a complete view of the entire program so it can better implement inlining, constant propagation, dead call/function elimination, and other specialized optimizations.

The Intel C++ Compiler can also generate machine code that is optimized to maximize performance. This includes specialized optimizations targeted at the new SIMD instructions and cache structure of the latest Intel CPUs.


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