Alibaba reveals development roadmap for quantum and AI chips

alibaba quantum
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Alibaba DAMO Academy, a global initiative by Alibaba to lead technology and science research, has laid out its development roadmap for quantum computing and AI chips over the next five years.

The technologies are being developed to support the firm’s growing cloud and IoT businesses, as well as to explore new commercial applications in various industries – from logistics, materials to pharmaceuticals – that require greater computing power to achieve technology breakthroughs.

The academy has embarked on developing its own quantum processors. The Hangzhou-based quantum hardware team is developing high-precision, multiple-qubit superconducting quantum processors.

In the meantime, the Academy will continue its efforts in driving quantum development. This includes building cloud-accessed, quantum-classical heterogenous systems for delivering quantum computing power as a utility, and searching for super-fast quantum- classical hybrid algorithms to solve fundamental problems in machine learning, optimization, and physics simulations. The expansion to hardware reflects the Academy’s conviction that the co-development of hardware and application will expedite the realization of quantum computing’s revolutionary potentials.

In addition, the DAMO Academy will endeavor to nurture and expand its network of partnerships to explore quantum-enhanced solutions for a diverse range of industries including e-commerce, logistics, finance, materials and pharmaceuticals.

The academy also plans to launch its first self-developed AI inference chip – “AliNPU” – in the second half of 2019, which has potential for use in autonomous driving, smart cities and smart logistics.

In addition to this, the Academy will boost its R&D in AI chips for training on the cloud and for IoT applications. The goal is to build a robust, cloud-based IoT infrastructure, providing computational power for the company’s data centers, as well as advancing IoT businesses ranging from smart homes to smart logistics.

The DAMO Academy revealed its quantum/AI chip roadmap at the Cloud Computing Conference 2018, which is underway this week in Hangzhou.

At the conference, Alibaba also announced the establishment of a new chip subsidiary that will focus on customized AI chips and embedded processors to further support Alibaba’s growing cloud and IoT businesses.

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