Daily Management Review

New In-House Developed AI Based Chip Unveiled By China’s Alibaba


New In-House Developed AI Based Chip Unveiled By China’s Alibaba
The first indigeneously developed artificial intelligence (AI) chip was introduced by Alibaba Group. The chip comprises of a   neural processing unit and has been named Hanguang 800. The company claimed that this new chip will dramatically enhance the speed and energy spending in the process of machine learning.
Some features on the Alibaba’s e-commerce sites, including product search and personalized recommendations, is already being powered by this new chip which was launched by the company as Alibaba Cloud’s annual Apsara Computing Conference in Hangzhou, China. The company will later make it available to Alibaba Cloud customers.
Alibaba cited a number of unique that that would be possible to do with the chip. The company said that the process of categorization of about one billion product images that are uploaded to the e-commerce platform Taobao every day by merchants as well as preparing the images in a suitable manner for search and for personalized recommendations takes about an hour currently, which would be reduced to just five minutes with the use of Hanguang 800 in Taobao.
A number of business operations of the company that require machine processing at Alibaba is already making use of the Hanguang 800 chip. Such business processes includes ones like automatic translation on its e-commerce sites, advertising and intelligence customer services apart from the above mentioned use of product search and recommendations.
Analysts say that this new chip will help in the reduction of Chinese companies on such chips manufactured and imported from the United States because of the increased difficulties in doing business with American companies due to the ongoing trade war between the US and China. However Alibaba has not made it clear about when this new AI based chip would become available for its cloud customers. Analysts also said that the new chip could also increase the prospects of Alibaba Cloud outside of China. According to the Synergy Research Group, while the cloud business of Alibaba is the leader in within China, the company is behind rivals Amazon, Microsoft and Google in the Asia-Pacific region.
The designers and developers of the Hanguang 800 chip was the T-Head unit within Alibaba DAMO Academy. The T-Head unit is specifically tasked with the development of chips for cloud and edge computing for the company. On the other hand Alibaba DAMO Academy is the global research and development wing of the company for which the company has announced investments of more than $15 billion.
“The launch of Hanguang 800 is an important step in our pursuit of next-generation technologies, boosting computing capabilities that will drive both our current and emerging businesses while improving energy-efficiency,” said Alibaba Group CTO and president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Jeff Zhang in a statement.
“In the near future, we plan to empower our clients by providing access through our cloud business to the advanced computing that is made possible by the chip, anytime and anywhere,” he added.