Huawei challenges rivals with AI chips

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It is also planning to apply AI to its own operations across "routine business activities", as well as offering deployments to businesses across public and private cloud, edge computing, industrial Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and consumer devices. At the event, Huawei deputy chairman Eric Xu revealed that the development is part of the companies AI strategy to "to invest in basic research and talent development, build a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio, and foster an open global ecosystem". The latter is available immediately, while the former is expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2019.

Dang Wenshuan, the Chief Strategy Architect at Huawei, thinks the companys foray into the AI chip field is a natural extension of its existing business and will drive further growth.

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. "But if one day we can realize the autonomous network, such jobs of O&M [operations and maintenance] engineers will become redundant".

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. Huawei's AI portfolio includes its new Ascend series of AI chips - the world's first AI IP and chip series designed for a full range of scenarios (see below for more information).

"AI will also change every organization", he said. Huawei has not divulged how many of its servers will make use of its own chips. In the consumer market, HiAI will infuse intelligence into consumer devices, making them smarter than ever.

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Huawei said its AI research will focus on natural language processing, computer vision, decision/interference, and machine learning.

Huawei has always been barred from selling telecom gear in the United States.

However, Dang Wenshuan, Huawei's chief strategy architect, explained that the benefits of a unified architecture are "quite clear", including: one-time ops development, consistent development and debugging, and smooth migration across device, edge, and cloud.

"Full stack means that Huawei is able to provide AI application developers with unparalleled computing power and a strong application development platform", he said.

Our portfolio will also include an AI acceleration card, AI server, AI appliance, and many other products.

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