Leveraging GPU power for big data analytics

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang chats with Shazam CTO Jason Titus on using GPUs for audio search.
NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang chats with Shazam CTO Jason Titus on using GPUs for audio search.

Think graphics processing unit (GPU) and most would relate it to mainly gaming. But enterprises are finding new ways to leverage the power of GPUs to tackle big data analytics and advanced search for both consumer and commercial applications.

Shazam, Salesforce.com and Cortexica are among those  expanding the use of GPUs beyond their traditional role of processing massive data sets and complex algorithms for high performance computing science and engineering applications. They rely on NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators for areas as diverse as audio search, big data analytics and image recognition.

“GPU accelerators provide great value to applications with lots of data or computations,” said Sumit Gupta, General Manager of the Tesla accelerated computing business at NVIDIA. “A growing number of applications that provide mobile service and social media analysis have both. And that’s prompting their providers to turn to GPU accelerators as they scale up their infrastructure to meet growing demand.”

Rapid audio search
Audio search specialist Shazam uses GPU accelerators to rapidly search and identify songs from its 27 million track database. Using a mobile phone or tablet, the app’s 300 million-plus users capture brief samples of music, which are then matched with an acoustic fingerprint.

With more than 10 million song searches a day, 2 million new users joining the service every week and its database having doubled over the last year, Shazam is growing rapidly. By accelerating the search and matching process, Tesla GPUs enable Shazam to maintain a low-cost server infrastructure that scales with the company’s dramatic growth.

“GPUs enable us to handle our tremendous processing needs at a substantial cost savings, delivering twice the performance per dollar compared to a CPU-based system,” said Jason Titus, Chief Technology Officer of Shazam Entertainment. “We are adding millions of video and foreign language audio tracks to our existing services, and GPU accelerators give us a way to achieve scalable growth.”

Analysing tweets
Salesforce.com uses GPU accelerators to help major international brands, including Cisco, Dell and Gatorade, monitor and analyze more than 500 million daily tweets for brand, product, and service and support issues.

NVIDIA CUDA GPUs enable Salesforce.com to deliver insights almost 10 minutes faster than with a comparable CPU-based system. In addition, GPUs provide enough headroom for the company to scale with the exponential growth of Twitter and the increasing demand for advanced social media by business customers.

Matching clothes
Cortexica’s mobile application makes it effortless for consumers to find and purchase goods they like. Consumers can photograph shirts or similar items using their mobile phones or tablets, and the app searches through an online database of apparel to instantly find matches available for purchase from online retailers.

With GPU accelerators, Cortexica can run complex visual object recognition algorithms on a modest amount of server hardware to enable real-time searches against a database of millions of images.

“GPUs are fundamental to our success,” said Iain McCready, Chief Executive Officer at Cortexica. “GPU accelerators run our complex bio-inspired algorithms 30 times faster than CPUs, giving our users the best, fastest and most accurate consumer experience.”

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