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Baidu and Samsung join hands to kick off mass production of AI chip Baidu Kunlun

The mass production will start in early 2020.

Photo:Shutterstock.com

Chinese internet powerhouse Baidu announced Tuesday that it has established a partnership with Samsung for its first cloud-to-edge artificial intelligence (AI) chip Baidu Kunlun, which has completed development and will be slated for mass production early next year.

This makes Baidu the second Chinese internet company to launch to the market their in-house developed chips. Alibaba debuted Hanguang 800 in September and has applied it internally in Alibaba’s business operations, especially in product search and automatic translation functions on e-commerce sites, personalized recommendations, advertising, and intelligent customer services.

In the first foundry partnership between the two, Baidu will provide advanced artificial intelligence platforms to maximize the performance of AI, while Samsung will apply its foundry manufacturing technologies to high-performance computing (HPC) chips, which are dedicated to edge computing as well as cloud computing, an area Baidu has been trying to catch up with its local compatriots including Alibaba and Tencent.

The Kunlun chip will be built based on Baidu’s advanced XPU, which is a neural processor architecture Baidu independently developed for cloud, edge, and AI scenarios. The chip will be made with Samsung’s 14-nanometer fabrication technology and Interposer-Cube (I-Cube) package solution, according to Samsung’s statement.

Baidu unveiled China’s first cloud-to-edge AI chip, Kunlun, in July 2018, including a training chip 818-300 and an inference chip 818-100. In addition, the new chip allows Baidu’s pre-training natural language processing model named Ernie to infer three times faster than a traditional graphics processing unit (GPU) or field-programmable gate array (FPGA) model.

Baidu has already begun to work with FPGA chips designed for deep learning since 2011. After the release of Kunlun last year, the Chinese tech giant has joined the ranks of Google, Nvidia, Intel, and many other tech companies that manufacture processors for AI.

The ongoing trade war between the US and China has weighed on China’s chip dependence on foreign technologies. Local companies including Huawei, which is in the crosshair of the Sino-US trade spat, Alibaba, and now Baidu have all been working on their substitutes for imported chips.