Tencent Cloud claims to have developed three world-class AI chips that substantially outperform rivals, although details at this point are scarce.
The third largest cloud services company in China, following Alibaba and Huawei, Tencent recently revealed the three chips at its 2021 Digital Ecology Conference.
Current information on the three chips can be summarised as follows:
Zixiao – an “AI reasoning” chip that supposedly offers 100 percent better performance than rival products. It combines image and video processing with natural language processing, search recommendations, and other features
Xuangling – a SmartNIC or Data Processing Unit (DPU) that runs virtualisation of storage and networking for a cloud host’s CPU so that it doesn’t have to. Tencent claims this comes with zero cost to the host CPU and that it performs four times faster than similar industry products
Canghai – a video transcoding chip that supposedly delivers a 30 percent improved compression rate over other on-market products. It achieves this through multi-core expansion architecture, a high-performance coding pipeline, and a hierarchical memory layout
Whilst these suggested improvements are substantial, the reliability of these figures cannot yet be accounted for.
Their development comes on the back of Tencent establishing a chip research and development lab in Penglai in 2020. Its goal of achieving full end-to-end coverage of Tencent’s chip design and verification appears to have been realised with the announcement.
Tang Daosheng, senior executive VP of Tencent, said at the conference: “Facing strong business needs, Tencent developed a long-term chip research and development investment plan. Currently, it has already implemented three directions with substantial progress.”
Tencent currently operates outside of Asia in the USA, Brazil, Germany, and Russia, with keen plans to expand further into Europe, the Americas, and Africa.