Friday, 19 October, 2018

Huawei joins chipmaking fray with 2 new AI chips for data centres

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Cecil Davis | 12 October, 2018, 11:12

Xu said Huawei's AI strategy is "to invest in basic research and talent development, build a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio, and foster an open global ecosystem".

Huawei set up its cloud business unit previous year and is now trying to gain a firmer foothold in the domestic public cloud market, currently dominated by Alibaba.

The cloud services accounted for slightly over 9% of Huawei's revenue in 2017, with a 35% growth year-on-year.

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). The Ascend series takes Huawei into the hardware segment of the enterprise world, supporting its software and services offerings. And that there are enough data scientists and subject matter experts to make it all add up to real business value.

Xu went on to launch Huawei's full-stack "all-scenario" AI portfolio. 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. And in April this year, Huawei announced HiAI, its AI engine for smart devices.

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Yesterday, Xu said: "I hope we can all work together to turn AI into a practical reality, making it inclusive and available for all".

The chips are now being built by Huawei's semiconductor company Hisilicon, and can already be found in some of its smartphones and telecommunications gear. "Pervasiveness equals diversity", said Xu.

AI needs to be increasingly automated, rather than labour intensive - especially in areas such as model design, and data labelling and collection.

Huawei has also encountered its own problems recently, as it meets with resistance in the West from some countries concerned that its core networking equipment and smartphones could pose a national security risk. The demand for data engineers/scientists will increase, he said in a press conference following his speech.

Huawei's AI portfolio includes its new Ascend series of AI chips, which it says is the world's first AI Internet Protocol and chip series designed for a full range of scenarios. From a tech perspective, more and more issues are emerging as AI technology continues to advance.