China’s Alibaba unveils custom ARM-based server chip for cloud computing data centers

People walk by the Alibaba Group logo. Photo: Bloomberg

Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said on Tuesday it has developed a processor that will be used to power servers in its data centers.

The development marks the latest foray into semiconductors for the company, mirroring moves from other global cloud computing players while also dovetailing with Chinese government’s priorities to boost the nation’s chip sector.

Developed by Alibaba‘s in-house semiconductor unit T-Head, the chip — the Yitian 710 — is based on architecture from UK-based Arm Ltd, and will not be available for commercial use outside of Alibaba.

Alibaba is the largest cloud computing provider in China by market share and the third-largest globally, according to research firm Gartner.

Its rivals in the sector have also released server chips of their own. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Amazon.com Inc rely on their respective Kunpeng and Graviton chips to power their cloud computing infrastructure.

Alibaba also said it has a developed proprietary line of servers, called Panjiu, and added that it will make the source code for its Xuantie series of IP cores — based on the RISC-V open source architecture — available to the public. Alibaba unveiled the Xuantie in 2019.

China’s government has long urged industry to invest in the domestic chip sector, which remains behind that of global counterparts.

The country remains reliant on overseas companies for much of its advanced semiconductors, a vulnerability brought forth when U.S. sanctions against Huawei crippled that company’s booming smartphone business.

In addition to Alibaba, search giant Baidu Inc, phone maker Xiaomi Corp, and a number of Chinese automotive and appliance companies have begun investing in chips.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.