Huawei takes on Qualcomm, Nvidia with new Ascend-series AI chips

Huawei takes on Qualcomm, Nvidia with new Ascend-series AI chips

Chinese's largest telecommunications gear and mobile phone maker on Wednesday unveiled its latest Ascend series chips, machine-learning capable workhorses that it says can go toe-to-toe with designs from Qualcomm Inc. and Nvidia Corp.

"Our full-stack portfolio includes chips, chip enablement, a training and inference framework and application enablement", he said.

The new chip family extends all the way from smart earphones (Ascend-Nano) to data centre (Ascend-Max), via always-on devices (Ascend-Tiny), smartphones (Ascend-Lite); and laptops and edge servers (Ascend-Mini). 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.

Huawei will not sell these chips to third parties, its rotating chairman, Eric Xu, said at the company's annual global partners' conference, Huawei Connect.

In September 2017, the company released Huawei Cloud EI, an AI service platform for enterprises and governments. New services and new products, which happen to be built on-top of a new series of AI chips, known as Ascend. Meanwhile, Huawei's other new introduction, the Ascend 310, is aimed at internet-connected devices such as smartphones and smartwatches.

Huawei announced two new Artificial Intelligence chips called Ascend 910 and Ascend 310.

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.

"AI will change jobs and skills in a way that is quite different from previous revolutions", said Xu.

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 telecom sector, we will adopt SoftCom AI to make network O&M more efficient".

Huawei's AI push saw it sign a strategic agreement with Chinese search engine giant Baidu in December previous year to build an open mobile AI ecosystem that covers platforms, technology, internet services, and content ecosystems. In the consumer market, HiAI will bring true intelligence to our consumer devices, making them smarter than ever.

"I think this is a very natural phenomenon in the business", he added.

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