Alibaba Launches AI Chips to Power E-commerce, Transportation

Alibaba's new AI chip, revealed at Apsara Computing Conference in Hangzhou, aims to make machine learning tasks significantly faster and more energy efficient.

Author: Belinda Zhou   

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) has introduced its "super" artificial intelligence inference chip, Hanguang 800, sending its stock $5 higher Wednesday, to $176.65 per American depositary share. 

T-head, Alibaba's chips developing unit for cloud and edge computing, described the chip as "the world's most powerful AI chip" at Alibaba Cloud's annual Apsara Computing Conference in Hangzhou. Hanguang, which is already used in some features on Alibaba's e-commerce platforms, makes machine learning faster and more efficient, as announced at the conference.

"One Hanguang 800 is equivalent to ten GPUs," Jianfeng Zhang, the chief the chief technology officer of Alibaba and the head of Alibaba DAMO Academy, said at the conference. "DAMO," an Alibaba-funded global research and development project, stands for discovery, adventure, momentum and outlook. It collaborates with universities including UC Berkeley and Tel Aviv University, as reported by TechCrunch.

Hanguang chips are not directly available for individual users, but merchants in Alibaba's e-commerce unit can access Alibaba Cloud to gain the computing power. 

"T-head, DAMO Academy and Alibaba Cloud will realize the maximization of the three major technological effects in the digital era, providing the companies with accessible computing power and AI," Zhang said.