China internet giant, Baidu Inc, unveiled its first Cloud-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) chipset called Kunlun during its annual Though self-developed, it still falls behind rivals including Google, according to industry insiders. Baidu is considered China’s Google as it mainly focuses on the business of search and does not own core chipset technologies.
Kunlun is optimized for various AI tasks including voice recognition, natural language processing, image recognition and autonomous driving. Baidu first started making customized AI processors using FPGA-field programmable gate array (a kind of chip that can be reconfigured on the fly) in 2011. The new design is 30 times faster than the original FPGA-based processor.
“The processor can be used in a number of scenarios, such as public clouds and autonomous vehicles,” explained founder of Baidu, Robin Li Yanhong. The chipset will have accurate and fast big data processing ability, especially in image and voice search methods. And customized hardware will help Baidu scale up its AI capabilities at lower cost
“Over the past 40 years, Chinese companies have been heavily dependent on imports of high-performance chipsets, which has been a pain for us,” Li said, noting that Kunlun chip can support various scenarios including search ranking.