Bitmain and China Mobile to Cooperate on AI Development

Bitmain, the world’s largest cryptocurrency mining device manufacturers, has secured a long-term cooperation with a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Mobile, the country’s largest telecom carrier by mobile subscribers, on the development of artificial intelligence(AI), according to local news media.

Bitmain signed a memorandum on cooperation with China Mobile (Hangzhou) Information Technology Co., Ltd., one of the research arms of China Mobile, on December 7 at the China Mobile Global Partner Conference. This initiative signals that the mining giant is accelerating its pivot toward the AI sector.

The two parties stated that their collaboration will focus on a variety of application scenarios, ranging from digital homes, intelligent networks, intelligent security system to smart tourism and intelligent inspection systems. With multiple joint research and development projects as well as a joint AI lab, Bitmain and China Mobile will promote the development of AI-powered vision chips and a computer vision solution for edge computing. They will step up efforts to boost artificial intelligence capabilities like AI-based border gateway, edge computing and video structure analysis, and to develop standardized AI products. Further, they will also offer leading smart solutions for houses, halls, shops, parks and buildings.

At the conference, Bitmain showcased its Artificial Intelligence Server SA3, Embedded AI Mini Box SE3 and AI chip BM1880 which is designed expressly to speed up machine learning.

The artificial intelligence industry, unlike the cryptocurrency industry, has the full support of the Chinese government. As the crypto bear market continues, Bitmain has set its sight toward AI and seeks to transfer its success in bitcoin mining to the new market.

It has become one of the five biggest customers of the most advanced fabrication process offered by the Taiwanese chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company(TSMC). According to  the estimation of Shanghai-based research firm ICWise, as of December 2017, Bitmain has become China’s second largest chip design company, second only to Huawei’s chip arm Hisilicon Technologies.

Jihan Wu, co-founder and CEO of Bitmain, told Bloomberg in June that AI chips are a natural adjacency for their privately held, extremely secretive company because artificial intelligence requires lots of computations.

Bitmain plans to get 40 percent of its revenue from AI by 2023.

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