Alibaba unveiled its first AI inference chip on September 25 at Alibaba Cloud’s annual flagship Apsara Computing Conference. The chip, named Hanguang 800, will enhance cloud computing power and boost search, recommendation and customer service for e-commerce.
The new chip specializes in the acceleration of machine learning tasks. It is currently being used internally within Alibaba’s business operations, especially in product searches and automatic translation across e-commerce platforms, personalized recommendations, advertising and intelligent customer services. These areas require extensive computing power for the AI to optimize the shopping experience.
“The launch of Hanguang 800 is an important step in our pursuit of next-generation technologies, boosting computing capabilities that will drive both our current and emerging businesses while improving energy-efficiency,” said Jeff Zhang, Alibaba Group CTO and President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence. “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.”
According to Alibaba, processing and categorizing billions of product images uploaded everyday by merchants on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao used to take an hour. But with Hanguang 800, it now only takes the machine 5 minutes to complete the same task.
A key goal for Alibaba Cloud is to offer a leading technology infrastructure that benefits companies of all sizes and narrows existing gaps in the access to technology, ultimately making the world more inclusive.