In our eyes, Alibaba is way beyond an eCommerce giant. The company is taking it upon itself to enable the digital economy in China. AliCound sits right in the center of that effort. To keep up with their progress, we attended the AliCloud's Annual Developer Conference (aka, Aspara Conference) in Hangzhou from September 25th to 27th. The conference featured Alibaba group’s senior executives, 200+ top scientists, and 1000+ tech sessions. AliCloud, along with Alibaba’s many other business subsidies, announced a wide variety of new products and services. We encourage our interested readers to check out the video streaming of conference sessions and the Aspara developer community. A lot of exciting stuff.
We dedicate this week's newsletter to the important product announcements related to the "core infrastructure" of the digital ecosystem in the conference. We will share more thoughts on "enabled services" next week.
5G and Edge-Computing
In the 3G/4G era, AliCloud has built up the largest CDN network in China to support its eCommerce and cloud businesses. However, the management believes that the edge-computing will count for 80% of the workloads in the 5G era (chart below). AliCloud is fully committed to upgrading its edging computing capabilities to meet customer demands for 5G.
Adding 3000 nodes across China. Most with CPUs. Upgrading to new AI chips.
Focusing on reducing edge-computing latency.
Setting up several metro areas to test 5G consumer-facing applications such as VR/AR.
Alibaba set up its semiconductor division “Pingtouge” in 2018. In this year's conference, Alibaba unveiled its first AI chip, or neural processing unit (NPU), Hanguang 800 (picture below). The management touted that the chip: a) uses only 10% of silicon compared to CPUs and GPUs, b) reduces power consumption by over 50%, and c) cuts latency in half.
Our industry channel check (such as horizon.ai) suggested that Alibaba is hiring aggressively for the semiconductor business. In addition to the Hanguang 800, Alibaba has announced a wide range of chip technology. For example,
Xuantie-910: unveiled in July/2019, claimed to the most powerful RISC-V processor.
Wujian Platform: serves as an all-in-one turnkey SoC solution for IoT AI.
X-Dragon Architecture: integrates computing platforms, such as the elastic container service, bare-metal servers, and virtual machines within a single architecture.
Cloud-Native Database and POLARDB
The cloud-native database is viewed as the most important battlefield for public cloud providers. Amazon started developing its own cloud-native database AWS Aurora in 2012. In the 2015 Amazon CEO letter, Jeff Bezos singled out Aurora as the fastest-growing business within AWS.
To support Alibaba’s massive "11/11" sales event, AliCloud database teams began to develop its own cloud-native database POLARDB since 2015. POLARDB has become so powerful in recent years: in the 2018 "11/11" event, it enabled Alibaba to handle more than $3 billion in transactions in the first five minutes - the same volume as a full day of sales for Amazon’s Black Monday event.
POLARDB is very popular among AliCloud developers. The management shared that POLARDB has been growing its revenue 20% month-over-month since inception (9x per year, picture below). In the 2019 Aspara conference, the management announced several new important upgrades:
Unveiled on-premise POLARDB Box that is compatible with the Oracle database.
POLARDB to be the industry-first MySQL 8.0-compatible cloud-native database.
Announced POLARDB MySQL parallel query capability.
Here is the link for our readers to know more about POLARDB.
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