Everything Is Not ‘Made in China,’ Especially Chips
Alibaba Cloud, last week, unveiled the Yitian 710 server chips built by T-Head, Alibaba Group’s chip development business. Along with it, Alibaba Cloud also announced the development of Panjiu, its proprietary servers where the new chip will be used. The company claims that the set “will enhance the cloud services by optimising computing performance and energy efficiency.” Yitian 710 is being called one of the most advanced chips, which not only is better in performance but also saves energy. This could be an important milestone in China’s chase to become self-sufficient in the semiconductor industry, but experts suggest that the country is not there yet.
Alibaba is a recent entrant in the semiconductor industry and released its first AI inference chip Hanguang 800, in 2019. Alibaba is one of the many Chinese firms that answered Beijing’s call to invest in the development of technologies and manufacturing capacities to become self-sufficient. Alibaba had announced last year that it would invest CNY 200 billion in its cloud business over three years with a focus on infrastructure development which includes servers, network, chips, and OS. But, with limited semiconductor manufacturing capabilities at the domestic level, Alibaba is likely to outsource production to either Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) or South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co., as only they have the capacity to mass-produce 5-nm chips.
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