Baidu releases its first AI chip

Avatar By Le Williams | 2 years ago

Beijing-based firm Baidu Research unveiled an artificial-intelligence chip termed Kunlun during its annual Baidu Create event on July 3. The company joins a vast number of other Chinese firms in designing hardware tailored for machine learning.

Kunlun is maximized for various​ AI tasks, including voice recognition, natural-language processing, image recognition, and autonomous driving. Baidu first started making customized AI processors using FPGAs (a kind of chip that can be reconfigured on the fly) in 2011.

As first reported by MIT Tech, the new design is 30 times faster than the original FPGA-based processor, but the company says it’s not ready to begin mass-producing it yet.

With AI technology developing worldwide, Baidu states that its AI capabilities are advancing rapidly in order to leverage continuity. The company’s driverless mini-buses will soon be deployed on power plant campuses in China​.

EasyDL, a deep-learning tool the company developed for people with ​very little​ technical training, is enabling doctors to DIY diagnostic aids such as more efficient parasite screening.

Baidu emphasizes the importance of customized hardware, explaining how it will help the company scale up its AI capabilities at lower cost. China’s weak semiconductor industry has also become the focus of national analysis and research following the ZTE debacle. Analysts believe the technology transitions are the latest sign that the escalating trade tensions with the U.S. are impacting China’s interest in fundamental technology.