Alibaba Group is setting up its own semiconductor firm to develop own chips
China e-commerce giant Alibaba has disclosed plans to set up a new semiconductor company to focus on customized AI chips and embedded processors to support Alibaba’s growing cloud and IoT businesses, according to media reports from China.
At the September 19 opening session of 2018 Computing Conference held in Hangzhou, Alibaba chief technology officer Zhang Jianfeng said that the group will integrate its recently acquired chip designer C-SKY Microsystems and the chip R&D team of Alibaba DAMO Academy into a new firm called Pingtogue Semiconductor, according to the reports.
Zhang reportedly also disclosed that the new company will unveil its first neural network chip, codenamed Ali-NPU, in April 2019, which will be used in image and video analysis and machine learning. Also in 2019, Zhang continued, Alibaba will also release its embedded CK902 series chipsets to support network security functions.
Sounds similar to something from the smartphone world have been pondering about recently, isn’t it?
Zhang said the development of both software as well as hardware was necessary to provide the computing necessary to more quickly analyse data and at a low cost.
“Computing begins with chip. We established a team last week [and] by mid-2019, we will have the first neuro network chip,” he said, adding that the AliNPU had shown–in current tests–to increase image processing performance by four-times.
Alibaba has established a quantum computing laboratory now proceeding with 81-bit random quantum network simulation, and plans to release standard quantum chips in the next 2-3 years, Zhang was cited as saying.
Also heading Alibaba DAMO Academy, Zhang said that the academy now has more than 300 researchers serving in eight cities.