If you currently ask the Amazon Echo a question, the device contacts the cloud to make sense of the request which results in a noticeable delay to the end user. According to an exclusive report from The Information, Amazon is reportedly designing its own AI chip for its home assistant to speed up the handling of queries by handling them locally if they are sufficiently simple.
It is also believed that Amazon may use the AI chip for its AWS platform to improve its machine learning efforts. The company has been ramping up its in-house chip efforts and currently has 450 staff with chip expertise. It acquired chip designer Annapurna Labs in 2015 whose ARM-based Alpine chips are designed for routers and connected home products.
Amazon is the latest in a long line of companies to show interest in AI chips with both Google and Apple investing in AI research and Huawei's Kirin 970 sporting a mobile AI computing platform featuring a dedicated Neural Processing Unit. Google also has a dedicated Visual Core in the Pixel 2 which manages image processing independently of the main CPU, resulting in some impressive results.