Alibaba Cloud pushes into South Korea, Thailand with faster, more efficient data centers

Alibaba Cloud has announced plans to open new regional data centers in South Korea and Thailand. New server hardware from Alibaba Cloud improve data center performance and energy efficiency, and the company offered IoT developers source code for its XuanTie 910 processor.

The news came during Alibaba Cloud’s annual Apsara Conference 2021, held in person last week in Hangzhou, China after being held virtually in 2020, as the world ground to a halt during the pandemic. The annual showcase of cloud technologies and services also featured discussions from key regional innovators, tech experts and influencers. 

ARMing the cloud

The new data center efficiency is the result of efforts made by the Alibaba’s T-Head chip design group. The Yitian 710 is a 128-core ARM processor clocked at 3.2 GHz. Alibaba claims it’s 20% faster and 50% more operationally efficient than other server processors.

Alibaba has no commercial plans for the new CPU. But they’re going inside Alibaba Cloud’s new proprietary Panjiu data center servers. The Panjiu servers have been designed from the ground up to support scalable cloud operations with an eye towards AI and high performance features.

“We plan to use the custom-built chips to support current and future businesses across the Alibaba Group ecosystem,” said Jeff Zhang, president of Alibaba Cloud and head of Alibaba DAMO Academy.

Alibaba as a global hyperscaler

In 2020, Alibaba announced a 200 billion yuan (US$28.26 billion), 10-year investment strategy for Alibaba Cloud. At the time of the announcement, Zhang noted the economic stress and anxiety produced by the pandemic required Alibaba to focus on accelerating development of the digital economy.

Today Alibaba Cloud’s network of 24 regional data centers operate in China, the United States, Europe, the U.K., the Middle East, and in various countries in the Asia Pacific region. The company announced plans to build new data centers in the Philippines and Indonesia and Indonesia earlier this year. 

Alibaba Cloud announced that its two newest data centers will be South Korea and Thailand. The company plans to open the new data centers in 2022. 

“We are committed to bringing our world-class, hyper-scale cloud infrastructure to Korea and Thailand, so that we can support local businesses to be at the forefront of digital transformation,” said Selina Yuan, general manager of international business, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

Alibaba Cloud is expanding its global presence amidst regional challenges from AWS and Huawei.

Alibaba Cloud’s IoT play: XuanTie 910 for IoT source

In a related announcement, Alibaba Cloud also announced that it will release the source code for its XuanTie 910 microprocessor. Alibaba said that it wants to see the RISC-V architecture gain traction in the burgeoning Internet of Things economy.

“By opening up the IP cores of our in-house IoT processors as well as related software stacks and development tools, we hope to assist global developers in building their own RISC-V-based chips in a much more cost-effective way,” said Zhang.

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