The intersection of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to transform advanced manufacturing, so it’s not surprising that robotics was a major theme of GTC Japan 2018. NVIDIA’s 10th annual GPU technology conference in the country focused on addressing the rapidly growing AI needs of Japan’s manufacturing leaders.


Where GTC 2018 Silicon Valley focused on training performance, this conference also emphasized technologies to deliver the inferencing performance necessary for autonomous robots and vehicles. NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang announced a range of new products including NVIDIA AGX embedded AI computers for autonomous machines and the NVIDIA Tensor T4 GPU and TensorRT software for inferencing.


Attendance and interest in the show has grown steadily every year. This year’s keynote was presented to a packed house of over 4,000 technologists, academics, press, and partners. NetApp was a platinum sponsor of the show. This year we demonstrated our latest innovations for AI as well as meeting with important customers in manufacturing, telecom, healthcare and other industries. We also hosted a popular speaking session, met with the media, and conducted training for staff and partners.


A lot has changed since March when NetApp was at the GTC conference in Silicon Valley. In August, NetApp introduced ONTAP AI in partnership with NVIDIA. Powered by NVIDIA DGX servers and NetApp all-flash storage, ONTAP AI lets you simplify, accelerate, and scale the AI data pipeline. As the only storage vendor with published benchmark results for inferencing, NetApp was well positioned to discuss inferencing performance. (See the ONTAP AI Reference architecture for more details.)


The benefits of combining NVIDIA GPU power with fast and scalable NetApp All Flash FAS (AFF) storage was clear to many GTC attendees. This was evidenced by the level of activity at the NetApp booth, which was well attended by long-time NetApp customers as well as many newcomers. In addition to demonstrating ONTAP AI in our booth, we presented the technology and benefits in a packed speaking session attended by over 80 customers. The session led to a number of interesting conversations.


One executive from a telecom giant noted, “The performance and scalability aspects of ONTAP AI coupled with NetApp’s vision for data management across architectures is very compelling.”

Edge to Core to Cloud

ONTAP AI wasn’t the only area of interest at the NetApp booth. We also showcased our full range of edge-to-core-to-cloud data management solutions, providing seamless data management across the entire AI data pipeline.


Using NetApp, you can start off training AI models in the cloud and move on-premises if and when you need to, while still using the cloud for cold storage.


With customers increasingly seeking solutions for coping with growing amounts of data at the edge, our edge solutions for data processing and data management—offered on devices from NetApp partners such as Vector Data running ONTAP Select—received significant attention.


An existing Manufacturing customer commented, “We like you guys because you give us the flexibility to host our data where it is cost effective for us, your cloud offerings are great, and it’s pleasing to hear you have us covered if we were to collect data at the edge too.”

Key Takeaways

Manufacturers and other enterprises are moving beyond the investigation phase and starting to operationalize AI. NetApp has the technical depth and expertise to have fruitful conversations with data scientists in addition to IT teams focused on making AI-related infrastructure decisions.


NetApp wasn’t at GTC Japan just to talk about technology, we were there to help manufacturing customers address the real-world use cases that will make digital factories a reality. NetApp is helping leading manufacturers in Japan and around the world gain greater insight from data to drive down costs, increase yields, optimize supply chains, improve demand forecasting, and increase inventory control. In an upcoming blog series, I’ll take a closer look at how NetApp technologies can empower use cases across a variety of industries including manufacturing, automotive, telecom, healthcare, and other key industry verticals.


In the interim, if you want to find out more about AI at NetApp, be sure to visit and download the following document to learn more about our technology:

Sundar Ranganathan

Sundar Ranganathan is a Senior Product Manager for NetApp ONTAP based in Sunnyvale, CA. He currently focuses on introducing features and solutions for the ONTAP software suite to target AI/DL and low latency workloads. His experience includes product management and product development roles at Micron Technology, Qualcomm Inc., and Honeywell. He holds an MBA from the Marshall School of Business (USC), MS degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Southern California (USC) and a BS degree in Electronics Engineering from India.

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