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Alibaba debuts cloud-powered palm-sized PC

Chinese technology giant Alibaba has debuted a small PC which it says is capable of high-end tasks despite weighing just 60 grams

|Sep 17|magazine4 min read

Chinese technology giant Alibaba has debuted a small PC which it says is capable of high-end tasks despite weighing just 60 grams.

The demonstration took place at the company’s annual Aspara cloud conference, and is made possible via access to cloud resources, operating on either a subscription or pay-as-you-go model.

In a press release, Jeff Zhang, President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, said: “We hope our cloud computer can help people access resilient computing power whenever they need to, so they can conduct complex tasks which usually require sophisticated and powerful PCs, such as video editing, animation rendering, software development, and online customer services, with a tiny personal computer at hand now.”

The company touted the system’s usefulness as also coming from the fact any upgrades would be performed remotely, transforming hardware into operational rather than capital expenditure in much the way cloud software does.

“As working from home becomes the new normal during and after the pandemic, we believe our innovation can also help users more easily enjoy the benefits of cloud computing anytime, anywhere, in a cost-effective yet secure way,” said Zhang

As the connectivity revolution enabled by 5G grows, granting access to low latency, high speed connectivity remotely, the current model of increasingly powerful devices may give way. In its place, devices may only need to be powerful enough to stream their computing power from a more powerful device located remotely.

It’s a model that has been repeatedly tested in the gaming industry, with examples such as Google’s Stadia platform which allows the streaming of video games from powerful hardware, with the player’s inputs sent in the other direction.

Alibaba also used the conference to debut an autonomous logistics robot intended for last-mile deliveries. The robot is capable of travelling 62 miles to deliver packages in settings such as campuses.

(Image: Alibaba)

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