Huawei seeks to seize the AI throne from Silicon Valley

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Chinese technology giant Huawei is taking its AI strategy up a gear in a bid to seize the throne from Silicon Valley incumbents.

During HUAWEI CONNECT 2018 in Shanghai, the company announced how it will take on the likes of Nvidia and Qualcomm. The first part of that strategy is new hardware.

Huawei unveiled new chipsets it’s calling the Ascend 910 and Ascend 310. These chips are both designed for AI but target different use cases.

The 910 is targeted at data centres; a territory where Nvidia is particularly strong. Huawei claims it can process data faster than competitors – potentially reducing calculations from weeks or days to a matter of minutes.

The 310, meanwhile, is targeted at more consumer-orientated connected devices such as smartwatches. This is an area more dominated by Qualcomm.

Apart from the Ascend series of chips, Huawei’s full-stack AI portfolio also includes the following:

  • CANN (Compute Architecture for Neural Networks): A chip operators library and highly automated operators development toolkit
  • MindSpore: A unified training and inference framework for device, edge, and cloud (both standalone and cooperative)
  • Application enablement: Full-pipeline services (ModelArts), hierarchical APIs, and pre-integrated solutions

“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,” said Huawei Rotating CEO Eric Xu during his keynote.

The focus of Huawei’s AI research will be to improve power-efficiency and security, in addition to automation capabilities.

In terms of its AI portfolio, the company wants to ensure its platform is affordable, versatile across scenarios, and easy-to-use.

“Going forward, we need to think of new ways to prepare our business and industry for change,” said Xu. “There are clear signs that AI will change or disrupt a whole host of industries.”

Until now, Huawei has focused primarily on AI chips for its smartphones. The ‘Kirin 970’ was first introduced last year, followed by the Kirin 980 which is set to debut in the company’s Mate 20 flagship being announced next week.

AI News will be at the event to see how the Kirin 980 has improved and speak with Huawei execs about their strategy. Be sure to check back for more coverage.

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