Alibaba Announces Self-Designed AI Chip

(Image credit: Alibaba)

Alibaba unveiled on Wednesday its own AI chip called the Hanguang 800. Alibaba designed the homegrown neural processing unit (NPU) for deep learning inference tasks. Alibaba claims it delivers a big improvement in energy efficiency. It says one-tenth the hardware is needed comparing to CPUs and GPUs, and that the chip reduces power consumption by over 50%. The company also claims that latency is cut in half.

The Hanguang 800 is currently being used by Alibaba for product search, automatic translation, and personalized recommendations. As one example, Alibaba said the chip could perform a certain workload related to its visual search engine that used to take hours in just around five minutes.

Alibaba’s has been expanding beyond its e-commerce business to cloud computing as well. In the last reported quarter, that business delivered $1.13 billion in revenue.

Also on Wednesday, Intel announced that Intel and Alibaba Cloud had signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on technology for the Olympic Games in 2020 and 2022. Earlier this month, Intel disclosed that an Alibaba data center would power its 3DAT technology that will be used in 2020.