Hong Kong / Taipei – Alibaba Group Holding unveiled its first artificial intelligence center for data centers, a move aimed at reducing the dependence of the Chinese tech giant on US technology against the backdrop of constant tension between Beijing and Washington.
The announcement also marks an important moment in Alibaba's attempt to become a serious player in hardware. Launched 20 years ago in e-commerce, the company has been following Google, Amazon and other Western internet competitors in an attempt to move up the technology chain with its own chip offerings.
"This is only the first step of a 1
"Alibaba is confident that we are not only capable of doing what a traditional hardware company can do, but are also capable of doing what they cannot do," said Gian. With its hugely popular e-commerce and digital payment service, Alibaba is well positioned to access the large amounts of data required for AI training.
Zhang said that the new chip, known as the Hanguang 800, has a processing power equivalent to that of ten GPUs or GPUs, a more versatile type of computing chip used to handle AI loads. This technological breakthrough, he added, is already making a difference in Alibaba's e-commerce business.
For example, it took an hour while the system fed Alibaba's online marketplace, Taobao.com, to process 10,000 images for its website. Now that it runs on a new AI chip rather than GPUs, the system can finish in five minutes, according to the company.
"The launch of the Hanguang 800 is an important step in our pursuit of the next generation of technology, enhancing the computing capabilities that will drive both our current and emerging businesses while improving energy efficiency," said Gian.
Alibaba did not he revealed whether he would replace the larger GPUs he uses with his own AI chip, but co-founder of billionaire company Jack Ma, however, expressed his desire to reduce the company's trust in chips in the United States. for the calculation of complex AI workloads and for the analysis of videos, images and languages in data center servers, have been made by US chip makers Nvidia, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Intel's Altera, and Xilinx.  "The chip market is controlled by America … and suddenly they stop selling," Ma told a student assembly at Waseda University in Tokyo last year. "Japan, China, each country must have their own technology. The company must take responsibility for its customers for the global future, "he continued.
In April 2018, days after the US banned ZTE from importing US components, Alibaba purchased a Chinese chip maker Hangzhou C-SKY Microsystems, Washington's response to Huawei Technologies this year has accelerated the so-called "De-Americanization" trend in China, as more and more technology companies in the country seek to develop their own chips and more key compon
Alibaba says there are no plans to sell the chips, but analysts say equipping its cloud service with high-performance AI chips could give the company a leg up to attract more customers to the increasingly competitive cloud market in China
"It is not too surprising that Alibaba will develop its own AI chip as it deploys. large-scale data centers in China and some emerging markets. AI calculations are pretty fragmented, and every tech giant has different needs, "says Sean Yan, an analyst at CINNO-based Shanghai. energy – not the general-purpose GPUs used by most companies – has become a new trend among technology heavyweights worldwide.
In 2016, Google announced its first Tensor Processing Unit, or TPU, to compete with Nvidia for AI training m The company is reportedly building a team in India to create more AI chips, meanwhile Facebook recently announced its ambitions for AI chips, while last year Amazon unveiled its own chips as an alternative to traditional AI project processing computing.
"The new message about AI chips can be seen not only as a decoupling effort. from US chip makers, but from a business standpoint, it's also a way for Alibaba to build a more personalized and competitive cloud data service to compete with competitors like Amazon, Google, Tencent and Microsoft, "says Yang
Alibaba is the undisputed leader in China's public cloud market, but its long-time rival Tencent Holdings has leveled off, IDC data shows that in the segment known as "infrastructure as a service" – one of the most popular forms of cloud services in China – – Tencent gained 11.5% market share last year a.This is far behind the 43% share of Alibaba Cloud or AliCloud for a short time, but it was a significant improvement of 7.4% in 2016.
Meanwhile, other Chinese ani technologies are also doubling their investment in the cloud, seeking part of this thriving market In September, Huawei pledged $ 1.5 billion to recruit software developers for its computer systems.
Globally, Alibaba ranked third in cloud computing after Amazon and Google.