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Alibaba Spells Out Tech Research Roadmap; Quantum Computing and AI Top the Chart

Alibaba Group announced its development roadmap for frontier technologies, including quantum computing and AI chips on the first day of its annual The Cloud Computing Conference 2018 at Hangzhou, China.

Alibaba DAMO Academy unveiled plans to develop disruptive technologies over the next five years. The technologies are developed to support the firm’s rapidly growing cloud and IoT businesses, as well as to explore new commercial applications in various industries – from logistics, materials to pharmaceuticals – that require greater computing power to achieve technology breakthrough:

Quantum Computing: The Academy has embarked on developing its own quantum processors. The Hangzhou-based quantum hardware team is developing high-precision, multiple – qubit superconducting quantum processors. In the meantime, the Academy will continue its efforts in driving quantum development. This includes building cloud-accessed, quantum-classical heterogenous systems for delivering quantum computing power as a utility, and searching for super-fast quantum-classical hybrid algorithms to solve fundamental problems in machine learning, optimization, and physics simulations.

Chip Technology: The Academy plans to launch its first self-developed AI-inference chip —“AliNPU” — in the second half year of 2019, which has potential for use in autonomous driving, smart cities and smart logistics. In addition to this, the Academy will boost its R&D in AI chips for training on the cloud and for IOT applications. The goal is to build a robust, cloud-based IoT infrastructure, providing computational power for the company’s data centers, as well as advancing IoT businesses ranging from smart homes to smart logistics.

During the conference, Alibaba also announced the establishment of a chip company, a subsidiary under Alibaba Group that will focus on customized AI chips and embedded processors to further support Alibaba’s growing cloud and IoT businesses as well as to provide intelligent solutions for different industries.

“Alibaba has been a leading technology innovator in cloud computing and artificial intelligence since we announced our determination to transform into a technology powerhouse two years ago,” said Jeff Zhang, Chief Technology Officer of Alibaba Group. “The establishment of Alibaba DAMO Academy and its achievements over the past year underlies our strong commitment to technology leadership. Moving ahead, we are confident that our advantages in algorithm, data intelligence, computing power and domain knowledge on the back of Alibaba’s diverse ecosystem will put us at a unique position to lead real technology breakthroughs in disruptive areas, such as quantum and chip technology.”

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