Alibaba to launch AI inference chip in 2019

The decision by the Chinese firm reflects a growing attitude among Chinese businesses to avoid over-reliance on US-made technology


Alibaba has announced plans to set up a dedicated chip subsidiary, with an aim to launch its first self-developed, customized AI inference chip during the second half of 2019.

The Chinese technology firm's AI-enabled chip will be available for use in autonomous vehicles, smart cities and logistics, Alibaba revealed at an event in Hangzhou on September 20, 2018. It also announced it will be working on embedded processors in another move that supports the company's recent push into the cloud and internet of things markets.

Alibaba's Chief Technology Officer Jeff Zhang stated that the company is in "a unique position to lead real technology breakthroughs in disruptive areas, such as quantum and chip technology" due to its advantages in algorithms and data, according to CNN.

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Jack Ma, Alibaba co-founder and chairman, announced back in April when Alibaba purchased Chinese microchip maker Hangzhou C-SKY Microsystems that China needed to control its "core technology" such as chips to avoid over-reliance on US imports.

"The market for chips is controlled by America ... and suddenly if they stop selling, what that means, you understand," he told university students in Tokyo.

This move seems to be a wise move from Alibaba in light of recent conflict with the US. Many have predicted that the recent rise in tension after Trump imposed severe tariffs on Chinese imports will lead to an all-out trade war, perhaps worse.

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