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Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Huawei Unveils AI Strategy and New Chips

Huawei, the world's largest telecom-equipment maker, unveiled two new artificial intelligence powered chips to boost its cloud computing and machine-learning business at the company's annual global partners' conference, Huawei Connect, on Wednesday.

"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 Chairman Eric Xu during his keynote.

"Within Huawei, we will continue exploring ways to improve management and efficiency with AI. In the telecom sector, we will adopt SoftCOM AI to make network O&M more efficient. In the consumer market, HiAI will bring true intelligence to our consumer devices, making them smarter than ever. Our Huawei EI public cloud services and FusionMind private cloud solutions will provide abundant and affordable computing power for all organizations - especially businesses and governments - and help them use AI with greater ease. Our portfolio will also include an AI acceleration card, AI server, AI appliance, and many other products."

The company unveiled its latest Ascend series chips, machine-learning capable chips that it says can go toe-to-toe with designs from Qualcomm and Nvidia. It's also introducing cloud computing services and dedicated data centers for autonomous vehicles that will run off those chips, delving deeper into territory staked out by, Microsoft and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Until today, Huawei's semiconductor arm Hisilicon has been making chips for smartphones, telecom equipment and surveillance cameras, though its smartphone chips are only for Huawei phones.

Huawei says that the Ascend series delivers excellent performance per watt in every scenario, whether it's minimum energy consumption or maximum computing power in data centers. Their unified architecture also makes it easy to deploy, migrate, and interconnect AI applications across different scenarios.

The Ascend 910 and Ascend 310 chips mark Huawei's leading AI capabilities at the chip level - the bottom layer of the stack. These chips will help accelerate AI adoption in all industries.

Huawei said that the Ascend 910 processor boasts greatest computing density in a single chip, which is roughly more than double the capacity of Nvidia V100 under certain conditions. Ascend 910 is scheduled to hit the market in the second quarter of 2019.

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

The push into AI and the cloud marks Huawei's attempt to build a Chinese technology empire that can compete against the world's top players. Growing concerns about the security of Huawei's gear and supposed ties to Beijing are also putting pressure on its overseas operation. In response, the company says it's a privately run corporation keen on working with global partners.

Intelligent Cloud Data Centers

Huawei also today released the full-stack private cloud solution FusionCloud 6.5 and introduced the new-generation mission-critical cloud storage FusionStorage.

FusionCloud 6.5 offers new capabilities:

  • Compared to FusionCloud 6.3, FusionCloud 6.5 provides more than 50 cloud services in nine categories. With enhanced capabilities in AI-powered heterogeneous computing, enterprise intelligence, and hybrid cloud, FusionCloud 6.5 allows Huawei's full-stack AI solutions to be deployed on private cloud platforms.
  • Enterprises can implement large-scale, intelligent edge-computing management and collaboration. FusionCloud 6.5 also expands the integration of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) algorithms and applications so that ISVs can quickly integrate their AI algorithms and applications into private cloud platforms.
  • FusionCloud 6.5 supports today's demands for cloud-computing services such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Data-as-a-Service (DaaS).
  • FusionCloud 6.5 shares unified architectures, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), services, and ecosystems with HUAWEI CLOUD to allow users to leverage more than 100 online cloud services. The solution can also connect to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and other third-party public cloud platforms through hybrid clouds.

The new-generation FusionStorage offers advanced cloud storage capabilities for enterprise mission-critical applications:

  • FusionStorage offers distributed linear expansion capabilities that include linear expansion of EB-level storage capacity, IOPS, and throughput. FusionStorage also implements coordinated storage of hybrid cloud data on- and off-premises.
  • Equipped with Huawei's fully distributed gateway-free active-active solution, FusionStorage provides 99.9999 percent solution-level reliability. Additionally, this solution offers asynchronous replication technology that supports Recovery Point Objective (RPO) at the level of seconds for long-distance data protection scenarios.

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