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Amazon reportedly making its own AI chips


  • An anonymous source disclosed that Amazon is making its own AI-powered chips.
  • These chips would be used in future Amazon hardware like the Echo to make response time faster.
  • Moving away from third-party chips is a clear indication that Amazon is all-in on AI.

Right now, when you ask Alexa a question on a piece of Amazon-branded hardware like the Amazon Echo or Echo Show, your question is whisked off into the cloud for processing. The internal hardware in an Echo device is not fast or powerful enough to handle the question on its own, so there’s a slight delay as your question is thrown to the cloud, answered, thrown back, and then finally made audible by Alexa.

But that limitation is poised to change soon. According to The Information, Amazon is creating its own artificial intelligence chips for future Echo devices that will be powerful enough to handle simple questions “in-house,” as it were. Questions like “What time is it?” wouldn’t require the cloud delay, as Alexa would be able to answer immediately.

Amazon now joins Google in the chip-making game. With Google’s focus on Google Assistant and its line of Google Home devices, relying on third-party chips would eventually slow down progress. Google knows this, and heavily invested in making its own powerful cloud AI chips to get Google Assistant in anything it possibly can get into.

This desire to do everything in-house is no doubt a worry for larger chip makers like Intel and Nvidia. What we most likely will see is companies that rely on chip business to start making their own hardware, such as Intel’s drones and their prototype smart glasses.

Another example is Blink, a security camera manufacturer that was purchased by Amazon in December for an undisclosed amount. Blink was founded as Immedia Semiconductor, a chipmaker with a focus on low-power video compression. But the company started to put its own chips into video hardware after it had a hard time selling the chips alone. A successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016 put the company on Amazon’s radar, and now Blink (and their chip-making team of engineers) are under the Amazon umbrella.

Google’s and Amazon’s investments in the chip-making game make one thing clear: AI is a big deal, and you’re going to see it everywhere.



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