Amazon Set to Release New Products Developed in Israel

Processors developed by Annapurna Labs are likely to help Amazon decrease its dependence on Intel chips

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Amazon logo at one of the company's centre in Bretigny-sur-Orge, France, November 28, 2019
Amazon logo at one of the company's centre in Bretigny-sur-Orge, France, November 28, 2019Credit: AFP

Amazon Cloud Services revealed a list of new products and services at the Re:Invent convention in Los Angeles on Tuesday, including products that were developed by Israeli company Annapurna Labs, which is owned by Amazon.

The most notable product was Graviton2, Annapurna’s new processor, which is designed for server farms and is an upgrade from Graviton, which was released a year ago.

Graviton2 is a 7-nanometer processor based on ARM architecture, similar to microchips in smartphones and tablets, which are known for using relatively little power. Amazon says the new product offers four times the processing power of Intel X86 processors and up to a 40% improvement in terms of its cost payoff. Currently, Intel X86 processors are used in the server farms.

Graviton2 also performs seven times as well as its predecessor, Graviton, and its memory is five times as fast, said Amazon.

This means Amazon can offer its cloud customers services based on the new processors which, in some cases, may be a replacement for Intel processors.

While Amazon will continue to use Intel processors in its servers, this is a significant step by the company in decreasing its dependence and potentially even its relationship with external providers such as Intel and AMD. Thus it won’t have to wait until external companies release new, faster chips that meet its needs.

Some analysts say Amazon’s decision parallels that of Apple to develop its own chips and hardware.

Since Amazon is the world’s largest cloud computing services company, such a strategic decision could have a substantial impact on the microchip industry, including on Intel.

A large percentage of Intel’s revenue comes from server farm processors.

Amazon also announced the official launch of cloud computing services based on the Inferentia processor, which was announced a year ago. It too was developed by Annapurna, among others. This processor was specifically developed for artificial intelligence needs. It too will pose competition for Intel and other companies such as Nvidia.

Intel, which recently released its own artificial intelligence processor, stated on Tuesday that it was in talks to buy Israeli company Habana Labs, which develops such processors.

Habana is widely regarded as one of the startup leaders in developing artificial intelligence chips.

Habana Labs employs 150 people and has raised $120 million from sources such as Intel Capital.

Both Annapurna and Habana were founded by Avigdor Willenz.

Annapurna was bought by Amazon in 2015 for $360 million. It develops infrastructure for cloud computing servers that has helped make Amazon’s service more efficient.

The company’s Israeli operations are in Haifa and Hod Hasharon, and it also has development teams in the United States.