During its annual Apsara Conference, Alibaba unveiled its new AI chip which will specializes in handling machine learning tasks and will be used to enhance the services of its cloud computing division.
The internet giant's first self-developed AI chip is called the Hanguang 800 and it is already being used within the company to power a number of services including product search, automatic translation and personalized recommendations on its web sites.
Alibaba CTO Jeff Zhang explained how important the chip is to the firm's current and future endeavors, saying:
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“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.”
For now it looks like the Hanguang 800 will remain in-house as Alibaba has no plans to sell the chip as a standalone commercial product according to a company spokesperson.
The chip itself was developed by an Alibaba research institute launched at the end of 2017 called DAMO Academy alongside the company's specialized semiconductor division, T-Head.
Alibaba's entrance into the chip sector comes at a time when Beijing is trying to promote China's semiconductor industry while also reducing the country's reliance on imported core technologies from foreign firms.
US tech giants Google and Facebook are also working on developing their own custom chips with the aim of improving the performance of specialized AI tasks at their data centers.
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