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Alibaba named its new AI chip Hanguang 800 , which refers to a legendary sword from Chinese history. Alibaba’s CTO, Jeff Zhang, introduced the chip at the annual Apsara Conference in Hangzhou. While traditional GPUs need about one hour to categorize one billion new product images, as are uploaded to the business platform Taobao on a daily basis, the Hanguang 800 only needs about five minutes.

Alibaba doesn’t want to market the chip. For now, it will only be used at the company’s computer center. Customers who use cloud services at Alibaba thus benefit indirectly from this high-performance chip. Supporting businesses in their digitization efforts has since become one of Alibaba’s most important business branches. In 2018, the company established a semiconductor unit called T-Head for this purpose.