Alibaba unveils ‘Hanguang 800’ – its first A.I. chip; Will bring down computing time from hours to minutes

Alibaba has unveiled its first chip to power artificial intelligence (AI) processes called Hanguang 800. The launch ties into the rapid growth of its cloud computing business and is said to cut down computing tasks that would take an hour down to 5 minutes.

Alibaba says that the chip is being used currently to power its business operations internally, in product search, auto translation, personalized recommendations, advertising and customer servicing. These areas require significant computing power and the chip helps speed things up.

“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,” Jeff Zhang, Alibaba’s chief technology officer, said in a press release.

Alibaba has said that they have no plans to retail the chip as a standalone product to third parties and intends to use it exclusively internally for its products.

Huawei, another Chinese tech giant, recently launched its own AI chip called Ascend 910, which it calls the ‘world’s most powerful AI processor’. The launch of these processors underlines China’s focus on semiconductors as part of its ‘Made in China 2025’ plan, in which it aims to produce 70% of the semiconductors it uses by 2025.

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