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Community Blog Alibaba Reveals Its True Power as an AI Machine

Alibaba Reveals Its True Power as an AI Machine

At this Apsara Conference, Alibaba revealed the numbers behind its AI prowess along with a host of new products and solutions in AI.

Relive the best moments of the Apsara Conference 2019 at https://www.alibabacloud.com/apsara-conference-2019.

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During this year's Apsara Conference, Alibaba revealed the numbers for the adoption and processing capabilities of Alibaba's AI Platform for the first time. From these figures, you can catch a glimpse of the true power of Alibaba's AI Platform:

  • Apsara AI Platform answers more than one trillion calls per day.
  • Apsara AI Platform serves 1 billion global customers.
  • Apsara AI Platform processes 1 billion images, 1.2 million hours of videos, 0.55 million hours of voice messages, and 500 billion natural language sentences per day.

Also at the conference, Alibaba, and more specifically Alibaba Cloud, showed how they were leaders in everything AI related-from straight down to the AI chips to a whole host of applications and from AI-empowered cloud services and platforms to algorithms and other industrial solutions.

An avid fan and contributor to Alibaba Cloud created the below illustration of Alibaba Cloud's AI architecture. The illustration makes for a good summary of the AI offerings at Alibaba Cloud and where they appear in Alibaba Cloud's overall AI architecture:

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To get to where Alibaba is now, Alibaba Cloud had to make great strides in chip design, machine learning algorithms, and along with its service and platform offerings powered by AI.

Alibaba Cloud's semiconductor subsidiary Pingtouge launched the AI inference chip Hanguang 800 back in September of this year. As releaved in the conference, the chip is so powerful that it has the equivalent computing capabilities of 10 GPUs, ranking first among chips in terms of performance and energy efficiency in the world.

Alibaba Cloud ranks as one of the top cloud service providers in the world and the number one provider in the Asia Pacific region. Alibaba Cloud offers the most diverse and largest-scale AI cluster offering of any cloud service provider in Asia, as a stern believe and prominent leader in the public cloud market with a vast selection when it comes to processing platforms, of which there are CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, NPUs, super computing clusters, and, of course, the new third generation of X-Dragon Architecture. Naturally, the suite of services offered by Alibaba Cloud are well integrated with each other, working together to provide unparalleled support to industrial AI applications.

In particular when it comes to AI, Alibaba Cloud's platforms are the Apsara AI Platform, Apsara Big Data Platform, and AIoT Platform. These platforms are helpful to developers as they can significantly lower the threshold for developers to work in the new and exciting field of AI. Adding to this, the Apsara AI Platform is the first commercial, cloud-based machine-learning platform in China to offers support for large-scale algorithms. This platform is able to process tens of billions of features and around 100 billion training samples.

When it comes to the research about AI algorithms, Alibaba Cloud has won over 40 firsts for papers on a variety of topics, including AI algorithms for natural language processing, speech recognition, and computer vision.

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Alibaba Cloud's AI offerings provide a host of services inside and outside of Alibaba Group.

Within Alibaba Group, the Ali Xiaomi (literally Ali honeybee) Chatbot serves more than 5 million users each day. And, when it comes to AI-power automation applications, Alibaba Cloud has invented heavily into smart speakers and autonomous driving. Alibaba's AliGenie is currently the largest Chinese-language intelligent voice assistant in the world. And Alibaba has taken the plunge to make autonomous driving applications continue to evolve from individual AI-powered vehicles to vehicle-road coordination.

Alibaba Cloud is a front-runner in applying AI in several different industrial scenarios. For example, in as early as 2015, Alibaba Cloud worked together with ecosystem partners to actively promote the application of Internet technologies in traditional industries. Similarly, Alibaba Cloud's AI technologies and applications, including those used in the solution ET City Brain, which have already enjoy massive application in a variety of industries, including transportation, public safety, and even medical services.

In the pursuit of excellence, Alibaba Cloud has also devoted much effort towards recruiting the best and brightest minds in machine learning and AI, investing heavily in the research and development of AI technology, applications and solutions. And as of now, Alibaba Cloud has assembled a team of top AI talents that spans the world, with more than 10 IEEE Fellows, 30 experts affiliated with China's Thousand Talents Plan, and more than 30 professors from some of the most renowned universities in the world, with more than 450 papers have been published at world-class academic conferences.

Alibaba Cloud is now a front runner in the AI race. AI is very much a new and emerging technology that shows a great potential for further development. Understanding its great potential, Alibaba Cloud has invested heavily and hopes to continue to find new cooperation and partnership opportunities in this area to build new AI-powered applications.

Alibaba Cloud also launched other key features and products at the conference. Below is a quick overview of these products:

3rd Generation of Alibaba Cloud's X-Dragon Architecture

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The Alibaba Cloud X-Dragon architecture, now in its third generation, can be characterized by three words: small, sleek, and powerful. Its revolutionary design takes advantage of several new advancements in both physical and virtual machine technology and capabilities.

The third generation of X-Dragon Architecture uses an all-new architecture that is designed to power entire IaaS platforms, seamlessly integrating Alibaba Cloud's various computing platforms, including Elastic Container Service (ECS) instances, ECS bare metal instances, and cloud-native containers. Users can take advantage of this technology to unleash the full potential of AI computing. Compared with physical machines with the same specifications, these machines with Alibaba Cloud's newest X-Dragon architecture boast 30% increased queries per second (QPS) and up to 60% less latency.

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The 6th Generation of ECS Instances

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The sixth generation of ECS instances offer the following benefits:

  • 20% improved computing power
  • 30% reduced memory latency
  • 30% reduced ESSD storage I/O latency
  • Up to 58% reduced costs for Alibaba Cloud products and services

PolarDB Box: Bringing the Cloud to Your Data Center

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Now announced at this year's Apsara Conference, PolarDB Box allows you to bring the power capabilities of cloud databases to your on-premises data center.

To get more into the gritty details, PolarDB Box is a high-performance integrated device that can be deployed in your or other developer's on-premises data center. The technology behind it enables you to enjoy the benefits of cloud databases, full compatibility with Oracle, and, even more impressive, easy migration to the cloud in a quick and easy way. PolarDB Box can also help you reduce your go-to-cloud migration costs by up to 95%.

Integration of PyTorch, a Widely Used Machine Learning Platform

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At the conference, Facebook and Alibaba announced that they have entered a partnership in the machine learning framework and platform space.

This means that is that now developers can easily use the features of Facebook's PyTorch deep learning framework, such as model training, prediction, and deployment, on Alibaba Cloud's Machine Learning Platform for AI console.

New Zone and Data Center: Heyuan Data Center

Alibaba Cloud also announced a new zone, Heyuan, located in Guangdong province, China. The zone and an all-new data center, Heyuan Data Center, will be the largest green data center in South China. The zone and data center will start providing services at the end of October this year.

The data center will store more than 300,000 servers and function as the new zone for the China (Shenzhen) region to provide some of Alibaba's leading services in cloud computing, AI, and big data, to enterprises located in the China's pearl river delta region.

AliOS Things 3.0

AliOS Things 3.0 is the latest version of Alibaba Cloud's AIoT operating system. This operating system allows you to easily locate faults within a few seconds and quickly launch services and products. It offers the following advantages:

  • New development framework with better user experience
  • Online customization of components
  • Isolation of applications and kernel
  • Support for JavaScript
  • New framework for applying AI in an on-premises environment

Alibaba Cloud also revealed the largest landscape of the AIoT platform, which integrates AI into a large ecosystem and provides reliable infrastructure for Internet of Everything (IoE).

New Full-Stack Data Security System

The newly announced full-stack data security system offers enhanced security and visible operation logs. That is, with this all-new system, you can more easily view the cloud platform operations logs that are related to their operations. Moreover, end-to-end data encryption is provided for better security. Only you and other authorized users can view and manage encryption keys, exercising complete control over the keys.

This release, among other things, further emphasizes the fact that data privacy and security is a top priority for Alibaba Cloud. Early in 2015, Alibaba Cloud initiated the first data protection convention in the industry.

Cloud-Native Version of Realtime Compute

The newly announced cloud-native version of Alibaba Cloud's Realtime Compute will be an end-to-end enterprise-grade solution to offers a wide range of services, including development platforms, log collections, alerts and monitoring, along with engine optimizations.

Conclusion

Interested to learn more about the announcements at the recent Apsara Conference? Stay tuned for more blogs.

Below are some images from the Conference.

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