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Google Rattles the Tech World With a New AI Chip for All

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In a move that could shift the course of multiple technology markets, Google will soon launch a cloud computing service that provides exclusive access to a new kind of artificial-intelligence chip designed by its own engineers.

CEO Sundar Pichai revealed the new chip and service this morning in Silicon Valley during his keynote at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference.

This new processor is a unique creation designed to both train and execute deep neural networks—machine learning systems behind the rapid evolution of everything from image and speech recognition to automated translation to robotics. Google says it will not sell the chip directly to others. Instead, through its new cloud service, set to arrive sometime before the end of the year, any business or developer can build and operate software via the internet that taps into hundreds and perhaps thousands of these processors, all packed into Google data centers.

The new chips and the new cloud service are in keeping with the longterm evolution of the internet’s most powerful company. For more than a decade, Google has developed new data center hardware, from computer servers to network gear, to more efficiently drive its online empire. And more recently, it has worked to sell time on this hardware via the cloud—massive computing power anyone can use to build and operate websites, apps, and other software online. Most of Google’s revenue still comes from advertising, but the company sees cloud computing as another major source of revenue that will carry a large part of its future.

A data center TPU ‘pod,’ packed with 64 chip boards.Google The Sequel

Dubbed TPU 2.0 or the Cloud TPU, the new chip is a sequel to a custom-built processor that has helped drive Google’s own AI services, including its image recognition and machine translation tools, for more than two years. Unlike the original TPU, it can be used to train neural networks, not just run them once they’re trained. Also setting the new chip apart: it’s available through a dedicated cloud service.

Today, businesses and developers typically train their neural networks using large farms of GPUs—chips originally designed to render graphics for games and other software. The Silicon Valley chip maker nVidia has come to dominate this market. Now Google is providing some serious competition with a chip specifically designed to train neural networks. The TPU 2.0 chip can train them at a rate several times faster than existing processors, cutting times from as much as day down to a several hours, says Jeff Dean, who oversees Google Brain, the company’s central AI lab.

Amazon and Microsoft offer GPU processing via their own cloud services, but they don’t offer bespoke AI chips for both training and executing neural networks. But Google could see more competition soon. Several companies, including chip giant Intel and a long list of startups, are now developing dedicated AI chips that could provide alternatives to the Google TPU. “This is the good side of capitalism,” says Chris Nicholson, the CEO and founder

Read More At:  https://www.wired.com/2017/05/google-rattles-tech-world-new-ai-chip/


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