Baidu unveiled on Thursday at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) a powerful new cloud server which runs on its self-developed high-performance Kunlun artificial intelligence (AI) chip.

Why it matters: Computing capabilities are at the center of the race between Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. The search giant also aims to tap opportunities brought by AI industrialization, which is expected to reshape different sectors like manufacturing and transportation.

Details: The server is an upgrade of Baidu’s cloud products and will better serve client needs in a wide range of scenarios, the company said. Baidu also announced 17 other smart computing products at the Shanghai conference.

  • The Kunlun-powered server’s computing power is 30 times higher than FPGA-based AI accelerators, according to Yin Shiming, Baidu vice president. FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) are programmable integrated circuits that can be used to accelerate the performance of AI applications.
  • The new cloud server enables China’s AI to run on autonomous, controllable AI chips, said Yin. It is compatible with Baidu’s open-source deep learning framework, PaddlePaddle, he added.
  • The cloud server focuses explicitly on the optimization of visual, speech, natural language processing, and other AI capabilities.

Context: Baidu released the Kunlun chip in July last year as China’s first cloud-to-edge AI chip designed to fulfill high-performance requirements from a range of applications including data centers, public cloud, and autonomous vehicles.

  • Earlier this month, Baidu signed a three-year agreement with chip giant Intel to collaborate on its core businesses including AI, cloud, and 5G.
  • Chinese tech giants have ramped up AI chip technology to support their essential businesses like cloud and Internet of Things. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba established a new dedicated chip subsidiary last year to support its rapidly growing cloud business.

Nicole Jao is a reporter based in Beijing. She’s passionate about emerging trends, news, and stories of human interest within the world of technology. Connect with her on Twitter or via email:

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