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Huawei unveils range of AI chips

12 October, 2018, 11:12 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • The artificial intelligence-themed Huawei Connect 2018 industry expo

Announced at Huawei Connect 2018 in Shanghai by rotating chair Eric Xu, Huawei's Ascend AI chip series includes the Ascend 910 and Ascend 310, with the company also unveiling the Compute Architecture for Neural Networks (CANN), a chip operators library and automated operators development toolkit, and MindSpore, a device, edge, and cloud training and inference framework.

But given there's cybersecurity paranoia in the West over the adoption of Chinese technology, especially given the allegations of China sneaking spy chips into the motherboards of a large USA tech supplier, Huawei could be looking at quite an uphill struggle.

Huawei also unveiled another chip that can be used to power surveillance cameras.

Huawei's new chips form part of its plan to "greatly accelerate AI adoption in all industries" and strengthen the cloud computing business it set up past year. The Ascend 910 chipset will be available summer next year. It predicts that by 2025, there will be at least 40 billion personal smart devices globally and 90 per cent of smart device users will have a digital assistant.

It is also introducing cloud computing services and dedicated data centers for autonomous vehicles that are to run off those chips, delving deeper into territory staked out by Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴). Huawei aims Ascend 910 for use in the data centres whereas Ascend 310 is intended for internet-connected devices like smartphones, smartwatches and IoT devices.

Until now, Huawei only designed and manufactured chips for its own smartphones, including the AI-capable "Kirin" processors.


The push into artificial intelligence (AI) and the cloud marks Huawei's attempt to build a Chinese technology empire that could compete against the world's top players - an effort that has raised hackles in the US. Huawei claims that the chip will be able to process data faster than its competitors and has the ability to train networks within minutes.

"AI technology is changing a number of industries - if not disrupting - and they are also changing the enterprises working in these industries".

He outlined Huawei's AI strategy, which does not offer great detail but sets out some underlying approaches to development, such as the need for basic research and "an open global ecosystem".

He noted that it has presented Huawei with new opportunities, helped strengthen its existing products and services, and helped improve its internal operation management to become more efficient and competitive as a whole. "In the consumer market, HiAI will bring true intelligence to our consumer devices, making them smarter than ever", Xu noted.

Huawei's AI strategy has multiple key focus areas, including investment in AI research, development of open ecosystem/talent, and driving operational efficiency.

"I think this is a very natural phenomenon in the business", he added.

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