China's largest telecom equipment maker and smartphone vendor Huawei Technologies Co Ltd unveiled a range of artificial intelligence chips on Wednesday, in what is arguably its biggest-ever push to expand its presence in the semiconductor sector and to compete with United States companies such as Nvidia Corp. HiAI will provide a full-stack portfolio for smart devices.
By 2025, the world is likely to see 40 billion personal smart devices and 90% of those device users will have a smart digital assistant.
However, Xu clarified that the chips are not being made available to third parties, apparently scotching longstanding rumours that Microsoft has bulk-bought Huawei chips - a story he described as a media fabrication.
However, the servers Huawei sells to telecom firms and cloud companies are mostly powered by Intel's hardware.
Huawei also unveiled another chip that can be used to power surveillance cameras. Huawei said the chip cannot only process data faster than competitors but would train machine learning models in minutes.
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The second chip called the Ascend 310 targets the smart internet-connected devices related to the Internet of Things (IoT) industry. Huawei's cloud services accounted for 9% of the company's revenue in 2017, growing by 35% year-on-year.
Huawei will likely lean on its new Ascend series of chips to take on sever-powering duties, as these come with machine learning capabilities, and have been touted as challengers for chipsets from Qualcomm and Nvidia.
According to Huawei, its new Ascend 910 chip is twice more powerful compared to Nvidia's v100 which is its closest competitor. That needs to change, 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.
"Strategically, we will continue to invest in basic research and talent development, build a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio, and foster an open global ecosystem", he said at the opening of the three-day event. "But if one day we can realize the autonomous network, such jobs of O&M [operations and maintenance] engineers will become redundant". In the consumer market, HiAI will bring true intelligence to our consumer devices. "Our portfolio will also include an AI acceleration card, AI server, AI appliance, and many other products", Xu further added.