UPDATED 05:01 EDT / MAY 27 2016


Amazon Web Services said to be secretly building a new AI service

Amazon Web Services is said to be testing a new service that will make it easier for customers to run artificial intelligence (AI) software on its cloud, according to a report in Bloomberg. The move is a rare case of Amazon chasing, instead of leading, its competitors in the public cloud, the publication adds.

Bloomberg cites the usual “people familiar with the situation” in its report, and says the new service will let customers use a wider range of AI software on Amazon’s cloud. In turn, that should lead to the creation of more powerful applications capable of performing tasks like speech transcription and pattern recognition. The service has already been tested by some customers in a limited offering that was launched late last year, Bloomberg added.

The move means Amazon is stepping up its competition with rivals Google, Microsoft and IBM, all of which have introduced their own AI offerings in the past year, and are arguably well ahead of the public cloud leader.

In a departure from the norm, Amazon didn’t deny the story. Instead, a spokesperson for the company told Bloomberg that it is indeed working on new machine learning capabilities for its customers. That comment suggests Amazon might also be building a kind of AI framework (which lets developers create and control neural networks) to challenge those offered by its rivals, such as Google’s TensorFlow. However, Bloomberg’s sources said Amazon’s new service goes beyond just developing a rival framework, as it will allow users to run multiple AI frameworks on its cloud, including those of its rivals.

Amazon will also introduce more powerful computers for the new service to run on, Bloomberg said. The new computers will come with eight graphical processing units (GPUs) built by NVIDIA Corp., compared to the four GPUs that Amazon’s computers typically use today. This is an important step because a greater number of GPUs means AI software can be run faster, and data can be crunched more rapidly, speeding up applications powered by the new technology.

Bloomberg’s sources were unable to say when Amazon’s new service might be ready for prime time.

Image credit: dantetg via pixabay

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