The Fabric

The 3 parts of NDIF

Developed by Northeastern University in partnership with the NSF Delta AI high-performance computing cluster at the NCSA at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, NDIF consists of three major components.

A nationwide high-performance computing fabric hosting the largest open pretrained machine learning models for transparent deep inference. This National Deep Inference Fabric is a unique combination of GPU hardware and deep network AI inference software that provides a remotely-accessible computing resource for scientists to perform detailed and reproducible experiments on large AI systems on the fabric. The fabric is designed for many scientists to efficiently and simultaneously share the same AI computing capacity to make efficient use of resources.
Read about Delta AI

A novel open-source research software library that enables scientists to develop and deploy new research methods on AI models by creating intervention code that inspects, modifies and customizes AI model computations. Our library, called nnsight, enables reproducible scientific experiments to be defined and executed on both the shared large-scale fabric and on a scientist’s own smaller-scale computers.
Read about NNsight

A nationwide training program to equip researchers and students in every part of the country to utilize NDIF to unlock critical research problems in every field impacted by large-scale AI. Developed together with the Public Interest Technology University Network, a consortium of 63 universities and colleges, the NDIF training program will consist of online modules, course materials, and in-person workshops hosted at multiple sites throughout the United States. It will create a network of experts in a range of fields impacted by AI, provide embedded expertise within their own institutions, and help create a next-generation workforce equipped to understand and harness the mechanisms and capabilities of the systems at the forefront of artificial intelligence.
Read about PIT-UN

What is Delta AI?

NDIF is powered by the high-performance computing capacity of Delta AI, a GPU computing cluster being created at NCSA in 2024.

Taking advantage of next-generation NVIDIA graphics processors, DeltaAI is part of Delta, which is the highest-performance GPU computing resource in the National Science Foundation portfolio. DeltaAI is tailored for artificial intelligence workloads such as Large Language Models.

Go to NCSA Delta
What is NNsight?

The NNsight library is an open-source AI toolkit being developed by NDIF to support research methods on AI models.

Building on the popular pytorch ecosystem, NNsight allows programmers to create intervention code that inspects, modifies, and customizes AI model computations. The library enables reproducible experiments to be executed both on the shared large-scale fabric and on a scientsts own smaller-scale computers.

Go to NNsight
What is PIT-UN?

NDIF is partnering with the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), a consortium of 63 universities and colleges, to conduct needs-gathering workshops and tutorials open to all fields affected by AI.

We are seeking participation of not only computer scientists, but also all researchers in science and social science who wish to investigate the mechanisms of how large-scale AI impacts their fields.

Go to PIT-UN


You can use a prototype version of NDIF today! The National Deep Inference Fabric is a four-year project, with many of the features and much of the capacity of the project to be developed during the construction of the project in 2024-2028. But an early version of NDIF is available for you to use today.

Visit our Getting Involved page to learn how to participate now.

Your early participation is an essential part of the project. By getting involved early, you can get a jump start on using leading-edge AI research methods, and you can also help the NDIF team learn how to design the Fabric to be helpful for research like yours. We are especially seeking users from outside computer science, so if your work is touched by AI in any way, do not hesitate to get involved as an early adopter.

Commercial AI inference services such as ChatGPT, Claude, and Gemini only provide black-box access to large AI models. That is, you can send inputs to the services and they will give you outputs, but they do not give you access to observe or alter any of the internal computations.

In contrast, NDIF provides full transparency for AI inference, allowing users to fully examine and modify every step of the internal computation of large AI models. NDIF provides this access by allowing scientists to specify programs, written using the nnsight library, that can intervene in each layer and step of AI inference while the AI runs.

NDIF provides access to all activations and gradients on large-scale open AI models, and will support interventions, model editing, custom optimizations, and many other research methods. These essential scientific capabilities are not available through commercial inference services.

Supercomputing, high-performance computing, and cloud computing infrastructure services are designed to support coarse-grained computing jobs, and they do not natively support fine-grained sharing of pretrained AI models. For example, if you wish to study a large AI model using an HPC system, you need to allocate a large amount of GPU capacity for your own exclusive use, which is costly, and which can put scarce resources out of reach for most users.

NDIF provides a shared deep inference fabric, which allows many users to access shared AI models in a fine-grained manner, making economical use of precious hardware resources. Instead of submitting an entire high-performance computing job, NDIF users submit specialized deep inference tasks which may run for as briefly as fraction of a second, exploiting the same preloaded AI models that may be studied by other users simultanously.

NDIF will provide an autoscaling scheduler that provides fair and efficient access to the most in-demand open models, allowing individual users to customize every aspect of inference while protecting and isolating different users from each other.

The NDIF API is built on pytorch, so using NDIF will be familiar to any pytorch user. For example, you can use it to load, run, inspect, and modify any pytorch neural network such as open-source models from HuggingFace.

However, instead of running models only locally, the API defines python contexts in which models can be run with interventions and customizations that are defined locally, but which can be executed either locally or remotely.

This enables a workflow where you can learn about and develop experimental methods at a small scale, using your own local hardware resources, and then deploy your experiments using the very same code at large scale, probing massive neural networks using NDIF.

To find out more, join the NDIF Community.

The open-source software underlying NDIF is available to be used both inside and outside the U.S., and it can be used with your own computing hardware.

The U.S. NSF is providing computing resources to support large-scale scientific studies. These resources will be made to educational and research users with a U.S. affiliation after a short application. (Eventuallly account creation will be automated the CILogin system, and there will be a way to allocate and reserve high-capacity blocks for very large-scale projects.)

NDIF is not yet fully deployed. To get involved as an early alpha-testing user, read our Getting Started resources and join our community.

Yes! For information on open positions, including full-time, part-time, co-op, and volunteer, see the Jobs section of our Getting Involved page.