Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) yesterday unveiled a new server chip that is based on advanced 5-nanometer technology, marking a milestone in China’s pursuit of semiconductor self-sufficiency.
The Chinese tech giant’s newest chip is based on micro-architecture provided by the SoftBank Group Corp-owned Arm Ltd, it said.
Alibaba, which is holding its annual cloud summit in Hangzhou, China, said that the chip is to be used in its own data centers in the “near future” and would not, for the time being, be sold commercially.
“Customizing our own server chips is consistent with our ongoing efforts toward boosting our computing capabilities with better performance and improved energy efficiency,” Alibaba Cloud Intelligence president Jeff Zhang (張劍鋒) said. “We plan to use the chips to support current and future businesses across the Alibaba Group ecosystem.”
Alibaba’s server chip is one of the most advanced yet by a Chinese firm, as it joins global rivals such as Amazon.com Inc and Google in gradually replacing silicon from traditional chipmakers like Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc with products custom-designed for their data centers and workloads.
Alibaba is one of a number of Chinese firms that has answered Beijing’s call to invest in the development of cutting-edge technologies and manufacturing capacities.
The Arm-based server chip, known as the Yitian 710, is the third semiconductor introduced by the e-commerce giant since 2019, following an artificial intelligence chip and an Internet-of-Things chip.
However, with limited domestic semiconductor manufacturing capabilities, Alibaba would likely still need to outsource production. While the company did not disclose its manufacturing partner, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) and Samsung Electronics Co are the only two firms capable of mass-producing 5-nanometer chips.
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