Huawei Reveals its Own AI Chips

Donna Miller
October 12, 2018

The two chipsets, namely Ascend 910 and Ascend 310, were revealed at the company's industry forum Huawei Connect 2018 conference in Shanghai, marking the first time for Huawei to use its own chips in its servers.

Bloomberg reported last week that some 30 U.S. companies' systems had been infiltrated by malicious chips inserted by Chinese intelligence agents. "We want to have an architecture that can deliver both extremely big computing capacity and extremely low-power consumption", Xu said.

Huawei also announced a smart cities AI partnership with Tianjin Binhai New Area, as well as a smart campus solution and joint innovation laboratories alongside Chinese real estate developer Vanke.

Eric Xu said that his company was taking proactive steps towards a better future in AI. Ascend 910 is scheduled to hit the market in the second quarter of 2019.

The second chip, Ascend 310, is available now. Moreover, around 90% of the device users would have a smart digital assistant. At the most fundamental level, it will require a massive growth of computer processing power, which he said urgently needs to become more abundant and affordable. Xu told reporters that his company will sell a full set of packages based on the chips to third parties, rather than just the chips alone.

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.

Conversations have taken place with Microsoft, said Xu, but he wouldn't be drawn on the details. "Data utilization will reach 86% and AI services will be readily available", it added.

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The firm is betting that AI will "change all industries and organisations on earth". Huawei has defined ten changes that will help pave the way. "At present, AI is a job that can only be done by highly skilled experts".

There is also a scarcity of data scientists, data science engineers, and subject matter experts.

He said Huawei's AI strategy focuses on five main aspects - investing in AI research, building a full-stack of AI portfolio, developing an open ecosystem and talent, strengthening existing AI portfolio, and driving operational efficiency. In the consumer market, HiAI will bring true intelligence to our consumer devices.

The company also aims to adopt SoftCOM AI to make network O&M more efficient for its telco business. Created to build an AI infrastructure covering the end, edge and cloud, the new Atlas includes the terminal-facing Atlas 200 AI accelerator module, the DC-facing Atlas 300 AI accelerator card, the edge-oriented Atlas 500 AI edge station, and the Atlas 800 AI appliance for enterprises.

Despite the ambitious, end-to-end strategy, AI can only solve some problems, admitted Xu. So far only four percent of enterprises have invested in AI, according to the keynote presentation.

Huawei's move to develop a deep learning open source framework similar to TensorFlow, Caffe, PaddlePaddle, and launching the AI algorithm models of private clouds and public clouds, appears to show the company is eager to overstep its bounds as a multinational telecom manufacturer.

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