Alibaba Introduces Its First-Ever Semiconductor Product In 20 Years


With the demanding growth of artificial intelligence, almost every organisation around the globe is trying to catch up with the rapidly-evolving emerging technologies. China, too, is accelerating its efforts in all possible ways to achieve self-sufficiency in this industry. 


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Chinese multinational conglomerate holding company, Alibaba has always been at the forefront of adopting new and emerging technologies. After the trade war with the US, the online e-commerce giant is doing everything that is attainable to bridge the gap as well as avoid excessive dependencies in other countries.

For example, in April 2018, the e-comm giant acquired microchip manufacturer Hangzhou C-SKY Microsystems to ensure the infrastructure of their IoT efforts. In September 2009, the company launched Alibaba Cloud with an aim to build a cloud computing service platform currently, it is the largest high-end cloud computing company in China as well as one of the top five around the globe. 

Cut to this week and the Hangzhou-based tech giant unveiled its first AI dedicated processor, Hanguang 800 for cloud-based large-scale AI inferencing. However, this is not the first move by the tech giant into the chip space. In one of our articles, we discussed the powerful RISC-V (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor, Xuantie 910, which was launched by Alibaba’s subsidiary Ping-Tou-Ge, with an aim to reduce the cost of making chips for Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

In 20 years of history, the online e-comm giant for the first time launched a hardcore AI processor with an AI cloud service which will power and speed up machine learning tasks and is claimed to be more efficient than traditional GPU-based services. 

Behind the Processor

Hanguang 800 is a neural processing chip which is announced at the Alibaba Cloud’s annual Apsara Computing Conference in Hangzhou. The size of the chip is about 12 nanometer and contains 17 billion transistors. According to reports, this chip will lessen the complex computing tasks into minutes which takes more than hours. While designing the chip, the company uses their own self-developed hardware framework, while incorporating the algorithms.

Currently, the company is utilising the chip for its internal business operations such as using it in their e-commerce platforms to personalise recommendations, product searches, intelligent customer services, and other such. Further, the chip will be available to the customers through Alibaba cloud. Integrating this intelligent chip with cloud computing products will eventually help the company to trade the cloud services in the market. 

Similar Chinese AI Processing Chip

Last year, Chinese telecom giant Huawei unveiled its artificial intelligence chips, Ascend 910 and Ascend 310 with an aim to be used in data centres and internet-connected consumer devices. Huawei’s Ascend 910 is aimed at data centres and is commercially available. According to sources, it has been claimed that this chip can process more data in a faster amount of time than its competitors and help train networks in a matter of minutes. 


The Chinese tech giant is indeed one of the leading players in the current hardware game. The rise of these consumer chips will eventually gear up the rise of emerging technologies. Be it IoT, AR/VR or AI, Alibaba has come a long way in order to bring newer improvements in the hardware space. According to sources, it has been claimed that the launch of Hanguang 800 is an important step in the pursuit of next-generation technologies. It will boost the computing capabilities which will drive both the current and emerging businesses along with improving the energy efficiency. These advents will not only help China to lead in the market but also help them to avoid dependencies on US technologies. 

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Ambika Choudhury
A Technical Journalist who loves writing about Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. A lover of music, writing and learning something out of the box.

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