Intel, Alibaba launch a joint edge computing platform

The announcement was one of several ways Intel is partnering with the Chinese cloud giant, which has growing global ambitions.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Intel and Alibaba on Thursday announced a series of ways they're working together to power "data-centric" computing, including the launch of a Joint Edge Computing Platform. The announcements came at the Alibaba Yunqi Conference 2018 in Hangzhou, China.

The new platform is an open architecture that integrates Intel's software, hardware and AI technologies with Alibaba Cloud IoT products.

Intel now produces a range of different AI accelerators, including CPUs, field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and Movidius vision processing units (VPUs). Its AI technologies also include OpenVINO, a toolkit designed to bring computer vision and deep-learning inference to vision applications at the edge.

The new Joint Edge Computing Platform uses computer vision and AI to convert data at the edge into business insights. The platform can be customized for the specific edge computing needs of various markets, including industrial manufacturing, smart building and smart communities.

It was recently deployed in Chongqing Refine-Yumei Die Casting Co. (Yumei) factories ,and according to Alibaba and Intel, was able to increase defect detection speeds by a factor of five in comparison to manual detection.

Alibaba, for its part, is so invested in IoT that it's not just partnering with chip companies -- it's launching its own new semiconductor subsidiary, focused on customised AI chips and embedded processors, to support its IoT businesses.

In addition to launching the Joint Edge Computing Platform together, Intel and Alibaba are also forming the Apsara Stack Industry Alliance. Apsara Stack is described as a cloud service stack that includes big data, middleware, security, and IaaS. Its core engine is the same platform that powers Alibaba Cloud and can be implemented in the customer's data center as a hybrid or private cloud. The new alliance will focus on building an ecosystem of hybrid cloud solutions for Apsara Stack, particularly for SMBs.

The companies also announced that during the upcoming 11/11 "Singles Day" global shopping festival, Alibaba will trial the next-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors as well as Intel's upcoming Optane DC persistent memory.

Additionally, Intel is helping to provide immersive technology on the OBS Cloud, the cloud broadcasting platform that Alibaba is helping to launch for the Olympics.

The two companies are also working jointly on intelligent transportation. Specifically, they're exploring v2x (vehicle-to-everything) communication.

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