China's Engineers Create "Thinker," A Universal AI Chip

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Scientists and engineers from Beijing-based Tsinghua University recently showcased the "Thinker," a system-on-chip specifically designed for artificial intelligence applications that attempts to stand out from the silicon crowd by offering much more versatility to original equipment manufacturers. The Thinker can efficiently power a broad range of neural network types and general AI applications, being able to dynamically optimize its performance based on the software it's running. The SoC is able to power both facial recognition solutions and allow for voice-enabled user interfaces, with none of its capabilities being a major energy drain and its creators claiming it can run for approximately a year on just eight AA batteries in total.

The low power requirements and flexible design make the Thinker a somewhat unique offering in the emerging field, as well as a major win for the Chinese tech sector that's been trying to get itself on the forefront of the AI revolution for several years now and is now making concrete steps in that direction. The Far Eastern country is still believed to be somewhat behind the United States in terms of AI-related research and development but is now pursuing a new plan that should enable its industry to allow for flow production of high-end neural network chips two years from now, an ambitious goal that will require it to ramp up its efforts in the segment even further. The Thinker has the potential to play an important part in China's AI revolution and may end up serving as a basis for similar chips meant for commercial purposes. Its versatile design allows it to be implemented in everything from smartphones and computers to sensors and general offerings from the Internet of Things segment, with the silicon having particularly important implications for embedded systems meant to run on batteries or be extremely energy-efficient due to other reasons.

China's increasing focus on AI has not gone unnoticed in the rest of the world, with Washington being entirely aware of it, as suggested by a recently leaked memo said to have been authored by a senior member of the National Security Council. The document that was later described as outdated by some industry sources advocated for a nationalized 5G network in the U.S. that would guard against the security threat supposedly posed by China and allow the American tech industry to maintain its AI lead in a secure infrastructural environment.

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