Alibaba is developing its own neural network chip, the Ali-NPU, which will be used in AI applications, such as image video analysis, machine learning, and other scenarios, Yicai is reporting. After the chip is mature, it will provide services for businesses through Ali Cloud.

But this isn’t the only news—Alibaba claims that the chip’s performance to price ratio will be 40 times that of current products on the market. According to the company, the Ali-NPU chip will have a special architecture with 10 times better performance than mainstream AI chips based on CPU or GPU architecture, while the manufacturing cost and power consumption are only half of that. Some commentators have questioned if this is a valid comparison since CPU and GPU chips have different architectures than NPUs.

The chip is being developed by Alibaba’s R&D institute, the DAMO Academy which stands for “Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, and Outlook.” The Academy was founded in October 2017 as part of Alibaba’s wider push into cutting-edge tech and it plans to attract talent by opening centers in seven cities around the world.

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Masha Borak

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] technode.com. Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.