Alibaba Group (BABA:NYSE) disclosed its AI layout for the first time on the APSARA Conference 2019 on September 25. This is the tenth conference organized by Alibaba Cloud since the company was established in 2009.
The annual event was originally called the "Chinese Regional Website Development Conference". It first took place in Yunqi (云栖), Hangzhou, and, since then, the small town has been holding the conference every year. It got the new name -- Alibaba Cloud Developers Meetup -- in 2011, which was further modified later: since 2015 the event was rebranded as 'Apsara Conference'.
For the first time, the company summarized its AI capabilities in terms of business offerings, talent pool, R&D results, and AI investments. The AI business highlights chips, cloud infrastructure, frameworks, algorithms, platforms and industry AI applications.
Alibaba's AI services are accessed for over 10,000 times on average, serving over 1 billion people globally, including processing images more than 1 billion, videos of over 1,200,000 hours, audios of over 550,000 hours and text sentences of over 50,000,000.
Meanwhile, It is vigorously recruiting talents and investing heavily in R&D. So far, Alibaba has more than 10 IEEE fellows, more than 30 well-known university professors, 30 national and provincial level experts from China’s Thousand Talents program, publishing more than 450 papers at the top international academic conferences.
Hanguang 800 (含光800), a homegrown AI chip from Alibaba Group's subsidiary Pingtouge, was presented by the company's CTO Jeff Zhang.
According to the Internet giant’s spokesperson, Alibaba plans to embed the new processor into some of its cloud solutions instead of selling it as a separate product. At the same time, it was reported that product search, automatic translation, personalized recommendations and advertising might become other possible areas of usage.
It is claimed that Hanguang 800 can significantly reduce the time of conducting various computing tasks. With image classification benchmark test results four times higher than the current industry leaders, the new chip might be considered a breakthrough in the high-tech field.
The semiconductor industry is among the key sectors in the long-term economic program undertaken by the Chinese government. Pursuing self-efficiency, the country throws heaps of capital to create capacities that may help to cultivate a better business environment. EqualOcean projects that China's companies have spent more than USD 1.2 trillion on imported chips over the last five years.