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Microsoft today announced that it has built the fifth most powerful public supercomputers in the world. The computer will be part of the company’s Azure cloud platform and is meant to train large artificial intelligence (AI) models. The company made the announcement at its yearly Build conference, held today via video conference.

“This is about being able to do a hundred exciting things in natural language processing (NLP) at once and a hundred exciting things in computer vision, and when you start to see combinations of these perceptual domains, you’re going to have new applications that are hard to even imagine right now," said Kevin Scott, chief technical officer, Microsoft.

The supercomputer is built in collaboration and exclusively for AI research organisation OpenAI. The company said it will be used to train the research organisation’s AI models. The technology giant had invested $1 billion in OpenAI last year to form a partnership which made Microsoft OpenAI’s “preferred partner for commercializing new AI technologies", and OpenAI would exclusively use Microsoft’s Azure cloud for its research.

With the new supercomputer, Microsoft is basically looking to enable larger AI models to function. It is part of Microsoft’s AI for Scale initiative, which is aimed at moving AI operations beyond smaller and isolated models. AI researchers have long said that massive AI models will deliver better performance than smaller and isolated models which are used commonly right now.

“This type of model can so deeply absorb the nuances of language, grammar knowledge, concepts and context that it can excel at multiple tasks: summarizing a lengthy speech, moderating content in love gaming chats, finding relevant passages across thousands of legal files or even generating code from scouring GitHub," the company wrote in a blog post.

The company has also built its own large AI models, called the Microsoft Turing models. It has used these to improve language understanding on products like Office, Bing and more.

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