New Alibaba AI Chip with 10 Times the Computing Power of Traditional GPUs
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On the first day of Apsara Conference 2019, Alibaba chip subsidiary Pingtouge launched its first AI-inference chip Hanguang 800, named after a legendary sword from Chinese mythology. Hanguang 800 is the world’s most powerful chip in terms of both performance and efficiency. It now has been used inside Alibaba Group to support AI business solutions like the City Brain and Pailitao (拍立淘, smart image search). Compared to the computing capabilities of traditional GPUs, the chip offers a much higher cost-performance ratio.
City Brain is a mass-scale industry AI solution first developed by Alibaba Cloud in the city of Hangzhou, which has now been implemented in 23 cities in and outside of China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Macao, and Kuala Lumpur. Currently, the new chip Hanguang 800 has been used to enhance the City Brain applications in the city of Hangzhou. The chip has the computing capabilities of 10 traditional GPUs. That is, previously it took 40 GPUs to process the video feeds generated from the main urban areas of Hangzhou, but now the same job can be done with only 4 Hanguang 800 chips. Also, at the same time, latency has been reduced from 300 to 150 milliseconds.
Pailitao, literally meaning quick capture search, is the quick image search feature available on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms. To provide this function to users, Alibaba needs to process up to one billion commodity images daily-anything from consumer electronics to apparel to snacks-as sellers upload pictures of their products onto Alibaba’s various e-commerce platforms. Behind this innovative feature are powerful technologies such as image recognition, search, and analysis algorithms. The high performance of Hanguang 800 accelerates the entire process, improving the overall efficiency by 12 fold. Traditional GPUs may take one hour to recognize one billion images, but Hanguang 800 can processthe same number of images in around five minutes.
Hanguang 800 adopts Alibaba’s chip subsidiary Pingtouge’s in-house architecture and algorithms developed at Alibaba DAMO Academy. During a Resnet-50 test, the peak performance of Hanguang 800 chip was 78,563 images per second, which is four times higher than the next best competition. Its peak efficiency is 500 IPS/W, which is 3.3 times higher than the second-ranked one. “Alibaba is a new player in the chip industry. The launches of XuanTie (Dark Steel) 910 and now Hanguang (Sword of Light) 800 are only the first steps towards a new chip revolution,” Jeff Zhang, Dean of Alibaba DAMO Academy, said in a statement.