Huawei Launches Ascend 910, its Powerful Artificial Intelligence Chip

Ruben Fields
August 24, 2019

Huawei has launched "the world's most powerful" artificial intelligence (AI) processor and a new AI computing framework, the company announced in a Friday press release.

The company is also researching ways to replace chip-design software tools offered by Cadence Design Systems Inc and Synopsys Inc, Xu said without elaborating.

"Huawei is desperate to escape its dependence on U.S. technology", said James Lewis, senior vice-president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

Huawei chucked around a few datapoints involving things like Teraflops, to support its claim that the Ascend 910 kicks AI ass. But the overall damage to the company will be a "little less" than billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei's initial estimate of US$30 billion of sales over two years, Xu told reporters in Shenzhen. "That is why we launched the MindSpore AI framework", Xu said.

The company also unveiled its open source AI computing framework that will make it easier for developers to make AI applications. The telecom giant had announced that the processor's planned specs at its 2018 flagship event, Huawei Connect, and after a year of development, results now show that the Ascend 910 processor delivers with much lower power consumption than originally planned, according to the company.

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It said it would continue to build AI processors fit for various scenarios including on-vehicle computing for autonomous driving and edge computing. "This also marks a new stage in Huawei's AI strategy", Eric Xu, Rotating Chairman, Huawei, said in a statement.

With the launch, Huawei appears to suggest it is business-as-usual amidst ongoing trade tensions between its Chinese government and the US. Nonetheless, its smartphone revenue was expected to be slashed by US$10 billion this year due to the trade ban, he said in a Reuters report.

Huawei's new ML framework MindSpore meanwhile provides device-edge-cloud training and inferencing based on a unified distributed architecture for machine learning, deep learning, and reinforcement learning, etc.

Huawei's consumer business group - which includes the smartphones business and is racing to develop an operating system of its own in preparation for the worst case scenario of being stripped of essential Google Android apps - is doing "much better" this year than initially feared, Xu said.

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