The company's S-1 lays the groundwork for what is widely expected to be one of the largest initial public offerings of the year, second only to Uber's IPO in May. It's also...Technologyread more
Fraud investigator Harry Markopolos' accusations extended beyond GE's management to actuaries, auditors and analysts who he claims overlooked billions in liabilities.Marketsread more
Trump's tweet comes a day after Apple put out a press release describing the money it spends on U.S.-based suppliers and vendors.Technologyread more
CNBC combed through Wall Street research to see which stocks are still a buy after their earnings reports.Marketsread more
President Donald Trump held a call on Wednesday with the CEOs of three major U.S. banks, according to people with knowledge of the situation.Marketsread more
Despite aggressive strides, Waymo needs one thing before their self-driving cars become a seriously useful transportation system: people. We talked to the ones closest to it.Technologyread more
Scientists say the smoke plumes, filled with megatons of tiny, harmful particles, could travel to other areas of the world and cause serious respiratory problems for people.Weather & Natural Disastersread more
Some Weight Watchers loyalists applaud Kurbo by WW. But nutritionists worry Kurbo promotes an unhealthy relationship with food during an especially impressionable time.Health and Scienceread more
Benefits from what President Trump called "the biggest reform of all time" to the tax code have dwindled to a faint breeze just 20 months after its enactment, writes John...Politicsread more
Epstein, 66, was found in his cell in Manhattan federal lockup Saturday morning and transferred to a nearby hospital, where he was subsequently pronounced dead.Politicsread more
Air travelers faced delays at U.S. airports on Friday afternoon after a computer issue snarled processing of international arrivals.Airlinesread more
Chinese retailer and cloud infrastructure provider Alibaba is the latest company to think up its own design for processors that can run artificial intelligence software. It joins a crowded roster of companies already working on similar custom designs, including Alphabet, Facebook and Apple.
The trend could eventually threaten the traditional relationship between big buyers and big suppliers. In particular, chipmaker Nvidia, whose stock has surged as its graphics processing chips have become common for powering AI-based applications, could find its data center business impacted as these roll-your-own-chip projects mature.
The companies are betting that their own chips can help their AI applications run better while lowering costs, as running hundreds of thousands of computers in a data center isn't cheap. It could also reduce their dependency on the few vendors (like Nvidia) who make the types of graphics processors that excel at performing the functions modern AI applications require.
On Thursday, Alibaba said that its recently formed research and development arm -- dubbed the Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook -- has been working on an AI chip called the Ali-NPU and that the chips will become available for anyone to use through its public cloud, a spokesman told CNBC.
The idea is to strengthen the Alibaba cloud and enable the future of commerce and a variety of AI applications within many industries, the spokesman said. In the fourth quarter Alibaba held 4 percent of the cloud infrastructure services market, meaning that it was smaller than Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Google, according to Synergy Research Group.
Alibaba's research academy has been opening offices around the world, including in Bellevue, Washington, near Microsoft headquarters. Last year Alibaba hired Qualcomm employee Liang Han as an "AI chip architect" in the Silicon Valley city of Sunnyvale. Job listings show that Alibaba is looking to add more people to the effort at that location.
The activity bears a resemblance to Google-parent Alphabet's efforts.
Internally Alphabet engineers have been using Google's custom-built tensor processing unit, or TPUs, to accelerate their own machine learning tasks, since 2015. Last year Google announced a second-generation TPU that could handle more challenging computing work, and in February Google started letting the public use second-generation TPUs through its cloud.
The second generation of the Google AI chip can be used in the place of graphics processing units from the likes of Nvidia, which can do more than just train AI models.
The Alibaba and Google server chip programs are still in relative infancy, at least compared to Nvidia's GPU business in data centers.
Indeed, Google and Nvidia remain partners, and Nvidia's GPUs remain available on the Google cloud alongside the TPUs. Alibaba also offers Nvidia GPUs through its cloud and will continue to do after the Ali-NPU comes out, the spokesman said.
In a note last July, analysts Matthew Ramsay and Vinod Srinivasaraghavan with Canaccord Genuity said that with the release of Nvidia's latest GPUs, they have "increased confidence Nvidia will ... more successfully defend pricing as data center sales scale and in-house and merchant ASIC [application-specific integrated circuit] offerings increase."
Earlier this week it became clear that Facebook is also exploring chip development. That initiative could one day lead the company to develop AI chips. That wasn't a complete surprise, though, as last year Intel said that it was working with Facebook on a new chip it had built for AI. But Intel hasn't been involved in Google's TPU, or Alibaba's Ali-NPU.
Facebook's AI chip could improve operations for internal researchers -- training systems faster could mean more rapid experimentation -- and boost the efficiency of systems doing calculations for the billions of people who use the company's apps. The company's push is different from Alibaba and Google in the sense that it's not primarily about giving customers an innovative type of hardware that could bring performance gains.
Meanwhile, Apple has built a "neural engine" element into the chips inside the top-of-the-line iPhone X phone; Microsoft is working on an AI chip for the next version of its HoloLens mixed-reality headset; and Tesla has been developing an AI chip for its vehicles.
But all those devices are different from the servers that would house AI chips from the likes of Google and Alibaba. Data center servers would have more power, direct network connectivity and more data storage on board.