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Intel working with Facebook on AI chip coming later this year

Chips are Intel's gambit to retain hold of a fast-growing segment
  • Reuters (Channel Asia Singapore)
  • 08 January, 2019 08:00

Intel is working with Facebook to finish a new artificial intelligence chip in the second half of this year, as revealed during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The chips are Intel's gambit to retain hold of a fast-growing segment of the artificial intelligence computing market but will face competition from similar chips from Nvidia and Amazon Web Services.

The new chip will help with what researchers call inference, which is the process of taking an artificial intelligence algorithm and putting it to use, for example by tagging friends in photos automatically.

Intel’s processors currently dominate the market for machine learning inference, which analysts at Morningstar believe will be worth US$11.8 billion by 2021.

In September, Nvidia launched its own inference chip to compete with Intel. Meanwhile in November, Amazon also said it had created an inference chip.

Amazon's chip is not a direct threat to Intel and Nvidia’s business because it will not be selling the chips. Amazon will sell services to its cloud customers that run atop the chips starting next year.

If Amazon relies on its own chips, it could deprive both Nvidia and Intel of a major customer.

Also at the Consumer Electronics Show, Intel said that Dell Technologies will feature Intel's next generation of processors in its XPS line of laptops. The so-called 10-nanometre chips have been plagued by delays.

But Navin Shenoy, Intel's data centre chief, reiterated that the new chips will be available in laptops by the 2019 holiday shopping season and in data centres by early next year.

Also at the conference, Amnon Shashua, the head of Intel's Mobileye self-driving car computer unit, said Mobileye has mapped out all of the roadways in Japan, using cameras that were already embedded in vehicles produced by Nissan Motor that come with Mobileye systems from the factory.

Intel's tech rivals such as Alphabet and Apple are gathering mapping data through special vehicles with cameras mounted on top of them.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)