Huawei bets big on industry-changing tech, unveils AI chips

Doris Richards
October 12, 2018

China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world's largest telecom-equipment maker, unveiled an AI chip on Wednesday that will power its servers, in a push to boost its nascent cloud-computing business.

The portfolio also includes: the Compute Architecture for Neural Networks (CANN) - an automated development toolkit; MindSpore, a unified training and inference framework for device, edge, and cloud; and application enablement, including full-pipeline services (ModelArts), hierarchical APIs, and pre-integrated solutions. HiAI will provide a full-stack portfolio for smart devices. 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.

Xu Zhijun, rotating chairman of Huawei, said these chips will not be sold as standalone products.

Huawei, which has already entered the cloud services industry, hopes to be able to drive further growth of its business by offering both software and hardware.

The move, which will see Huawei use its own chips in its servers for the first time, comes as China is looking to speed up the development of its semiconductor market here amid a fierce trade stand-off with the United States that has underscored the country's reliance on imported technology. Instead, Huawei will exclusively offer them within its own hardware (AI acceleration modules, cards, edge stations, appliances, and mobile data centres) from February next year - and via cloud services.

Huawei's Ascend 910 is aimed at data centers.

Huawei will likely lean on its new Ascend series of chips to take on sever-powering duties, as these come with machine learning capabilities, and have been touted as challengers for chipsets from Qualcomm and Nvidia.

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

Huawei's AI strategy has multiple key focus areas, including investment in AI research, development of open ecosystem/talent, and driving operational efficiency. "But if one day we can realize the autonomous network, such jobs of O&M [operations and maintenance] engineers will become redundant". Along with the HiAI engine launched in April for smart device processors, they will run on the Cloud EI service platform, introduced at the end of 2017 to help businesses develop cloud-based, AI-driven services.

Xu also announced Huawei's full-stack portfolio of AI products and cloud services.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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