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Amazon developing AI chips for Alexa-powered devices: Report

Amazon Echo Plus
Amazon Echo Plus

Amazon is the latest tech giant to jump in the chip development arena. The company is said to be working on AI chips for its Echo smart speakers and other hardware using the Alexa voice assistant. These AI chips will allow the Alexa to respond faster and provide an overall improved experience to the consumers, reported The Information.

At this time, most of the Alexa’s processing happens in the cloud and by doing part of this processing right on the device using the AI chips, Amazon will significantly reduce Alexa’s response time.

Amazon currently has the lead in the smart speaker space, but in order to maintain this lead, the company has to remain on the bleeding edge of the tech innovation. Developing its own AI chips will help it differentiate its products from those of the rivals.

The e-retailer could also use these AI chips in its cloud business to rent them to third-party developers and companies to run machine learning models and AI tasks.

While Amazon is unlikely to manufacturer these chips, the company will reportedly use the talent from its Annapurna Labs and Blink acquisitions to design them. According to The Information, it has around 450 people with chip expertise on the rolls.

Google has been developing custom-designed AI chips called tensor processing units (TPUs) for years now. The company on Monday even opened these TPUs to other companies and developers on its cloud platform.

Another tech behemoth Apple last year added two processing cores dedicated to running machine learning algorithms in its A11 Bionic chip, used in iPhone 8/ 8 Plus and iPhone X phones.

In other Amazon news, the company’s India arm is getting ready to release the Echo speakers in the offline market. According to recent report, the Echo devices will go on sale through a number of physical retailers beginning this week. The company will also be removing the requirement of an invitation to purchase an Echo speaker at the same time.

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