Huawei takes on Qualcomm and Nvidia with new AI chips

Bosch loT suite

Bosch loT suite

"There are clear signs that AI will change or disrupt a whole host of industries", Huawei Rotating Chairman Eric Xu said on Wednesday.

He pushed back against suggestions that the focus on AI meant a shift away from Huawei's current business of selling network solutions and cloud services to telcos and enterprises, and making consumer smartphones.

The four AI platforms are then Resident Voices, which has voice recognition for all citizens of Tianjin; Sensing the City, which uses image recognition across people, places, vehicles, and things "for the goal of fostering harmony for all"; Resident Care, which involves deep learning and correlation for personalised services for citizens; and Enterprise Services, which ensures services availability match their need by applying "multi-dimensional and correlation analysis to clarify the internal relationships of industries in the TEDA district".

Huawei's semiconductor arm, Hisilicon, already makes some chips the company uses in its smartphones and telecom equipment, but the servers it now sells to telecom companies and cloud computing clients mostly use Intel chips. In the consumer market, HiAI will infuse intelligence into consumer devices, making them smarter than ever. Huawei says that Ascend will make AI technology more accessible and bring it to all walks of life.

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

As part of its AI strategy, Xu added that the company also aims to invest in basic research and development.

The AI chips underpin that strategic thrust and align with Beijing's express intention to build a domestic semiconductor industry that could wean China off foreign imports. 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.

AI needs to be increasingly automated, rather than labour intensive - especially in areas such as model design, and data labelling and collection. The demand for data engineers/scientists will increase, he said in a press conference following his speech.

The two new chips come after Huawei's Kirin 970, released in 2017, and Kirin 980, which is set to be released this year and will be integrated within its Huawei Mate 20, also set to be released later this year. From a tech perspective, more and more issues are emerging as AI technology continues to advance.

The third layer, called MindSpore, is a unified AI training and inference framework for devices, edge computing and cloud.

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