Alibaba Cloud built its own server chips, called Yitian 710, for data centers which the company will use to enhance its cloud service offerings. Custom-built by Alibaba Group’s chip development business, T-Head, the Yitian 710 is designed to optimize computing performance.
Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, also announced the development of its proprietary servers, called Panjiu.
“Customizing our own server chips is consistent with our ongoing efforts toward boosting our computing capabilities with better performance and improved energy efficiency,” said Jeff Zhang, president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence and head of Alibaba DAMO Academy during the Apsara Conference, Alibaba’s annual technology flagship event. “We plan to use the chips to support current and future businesses across the Alibaba Group ecosystem. We will also offer our clients next-generation computing services powered by the new chip-powered servers in the near future.”
Built upon advanced 5nm process technology, Yitian 710 is powered by 128 Arm cores with 3.2GHz top clock speed. Each processor chip has 60 billion integrated transistors. Yitian 710 is the first server processor that is compatible with the latest Armv9 architecture and includes 8 DDR5 channels and 96-lane PCIe 5.0, providing high memory and I/O bandwidth.
Yitian 710 achieved a score of 440 in SPECint2017 (a standard benchmark to measure CPU integer processing power), surpassing that of the current state-of-the-art Arm server processor by 20% in performance and 50% in energy efficiency.
Panjiu was developed for the next generation of cloud-native infrastructure. By separating computing from storage, the servers are optimized for both general-purpose and specialized AI computing, as well as high-performance storage. With a modular design approach for large-scale data center deployment, these servers are expected to deliver exceptional economic value for a wide variety of cloud-native workloads, such as containerized applications and computed optimized workloads.
XuanTie IP core series
Alibaba also announced that it will open the source code of the XuanTie IP core series, among other upcoming cores. The XuanTie series is Alibaba’s custom-built processors based on RISC-V instruction-set architecture. Developers can now access the source code of the XuanTie series IP cores on Github and Open Chip Community to build prototype chips of their own, which can be customized for IoT applications such as networking, gateway, and edge servers. XuanTie-related software stacks, which support multiple operating systems, including Linux, Android, RTOS, and Alibaba’s own AliOS, will also be opened. Alibaba will provide more services and support for development tools, SDKs, and customized cores in the future.
“By opening up the IP cores of our in-house IoT processors as well as related software stacks and development tools, we aim to assist global developers to build their own RISC-V-based chips in a much more cost-effective way,” Zhang added. “We hope this move can encourage more innovation among the thriving RISC-V software community, and as a result help people enjoy the benefits of a connected world in the digital era.”
Alibaba released its first AI inference chip Hanguang 800 in 2019. The AI chip has been deployed in Alibaba Cloud’s data centers to power businesses in areas such as search, recommendation, and live streaming.