Alibaba Group Holding Ltd released a new artificial intelligence (AI) chip on Wednesday that specializes in machine learning tasks, as China steps up efforts to integrate emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and 5G into its economy.
The home-grown AI inference chip, a neural processing unit (NPU) named Hanguang 800, was
unveiled during Alibaba Cloud’s annual computing conference in Hangzhou, as the Co strives to make its e-commerce platform more efficient using AI. The launch of Hanguang 800 is an important step in the pursuit of next generation technologies, boosting computing capabilities that will drive both our current and emerging businesses while improving energy efficiency,”
Jeff Zhang, Alibaba Chief Technology Officer and President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, said in a statement. “We plan to empower our clients by providing access through our cloud business to the advanced computing made possible by the chip, anytime and anywhere.”
The chip, while not for commercial sales at the moment, is currently being used in optimizing consumers experience such as product search and automatic translation on e-commerce sites, personalized recommendations, advertising and intelligent customer services. For example, around one billion product images are uploaded to Taobao, Alibaba’s ecommerce site, every day by merchants. According to Zhang, earlier it used to take the machine an hour to categorize such a large volume of images for tailored searches and personalized recommendations for consumers. But with Hanguang 800, it takes just five minutes to complete the same task.
Huawei unveiled last month a new high-end Artificial Intelligence chip for servers, Ascend 910, which it said was “the world’s most powerful AI processor” targeted at AI model training. Normally chips are largely classified into training feeding algorithms to machines to recognize and categorize objects, and inference based on training, taking real world data and quickly coming back with the correct answers.
Alibaba had earlier released its first core processor IP based on RISCV open source chip architecture. Such architecture will provide the company an alternative to the dominant architecture supplied by ARM Holdings.—(Courtesy: China Daily)