Baidu Brain 7.0 AI Platform Announced; Baidu Kunlun II AI Chips Now in Mass Production

By Todd R. Weiss

August 18, 2021

The latest version of Baidu’s open AI platform, Baidu Brain 7.0, has been launched by the Chinese technology company, which also announced that its Kunlun II AI chips are now in mass production.

The updates were unveiled at the company’s flagship Baidu World 2021 technology conference, which was live-streamed from Beijing. The conference was held virtually due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Baidu Brain 7.0 is one of the world’s largest AI open platforms, according to the company, and is used by Baidu to support industrial applications of AI and Baidu Cloud. The new version offers greater integration of a wide array of knowledge sources and deep learning, including language comprehension and reasoning using a combination of technologies to enable output across language, voice and visual formats. No further details or specifications of the new release were provided by Baidu at the conference.

The previous version, Baidu Brain 6.0, had developed more than 270 core AI capabilities and created over 310,000 models for developers, becoming a key driver of the intelligent transformation in a wide range of industries, according to the company. Baidu Brain debuted in 2016 as a platform.

The mass availability of the new Kunlun II AI chip from Baidu means that customers will be able to use the latest chips along with the dramatically improved Baidu Brain 7.0 software to enable a new generation of AI applications, the company said in a statement.

The Kunlun II chips, which were independently developed by Baidu, promise two to three times more processing power than the first generation of Kunlun chips. The Kunlun II features a 7nm process and is equipped with Baidu’s homegrown second-generation XPU neural processor architecture for cloud, edge, and AI, according to the company.

The Kunlun II chips provide up to 256 TeraOPS (INT8) and 128 TFLOPS(FP16), with a maximum power consumption of 120W, according to Baidu. The chips feature Arm CPUs, high-speed interconnects, security and virtualization, as well as an upgraded compiler engine and development kit. The company is not presently releasing any additional specifications or performance figures for the Kunlun II chips.

The first-gen Kunlun chips were introduced in 2018 and began mass production in late 2019. More than 20,000 first-gen Kunlun chips have been manufactured so far and have been used for search engine, smart assistants and cloud business needs, according to Baidu.

The original first-gen Kunlun chips used a 14nm process technology and included 512 gigabytes per second (Gbps) of memory bandwidth. They provided performance of up to 260 TOPS at 150 watts and allowed Ernie pre-training models for natural language processing to infer three times faster than the conventional GPU/FPGA-accelerating model, according to Baidu.

The new Kunlun II chips can be used with cloud, terminal and edge computing scenarios for a wide variety of needs, including high-performance computer clusters, biocomputing and intelligent transportation and autonomous driving, according to Baidu. The Kunlun II chips are optimized for AI technologies such as voice, natural language processing and images and support deep learning frameworks such as Baidu’s open source deep learning platform, PaddlePaddle.

In March, Baidu’s Kunlun chip division received a new round of funding that was reported to be about $2 billion, according to a report by Reuters, while in a bigger move in June, Baidu spun the Kunlun chipmaking unit off as its own company.

Read the rest of the story at sister publication EnterpriseAI.news.

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