Huawei recently launched two new AI chips that will primarily be used in IoT devices and data centers. This will put the Chinese firm in direct competition with U.S. chip developers like Intel, Qualcomm, and Nvidia. However, given that the company has been deemed dangerous by security establishments of various countries, chances of Huawei’s AI chips gaining market dominance over U.S. competitors look rather slim.
The new AI chips
The new chips, the Ascend 310 and Ascend 910, were revealed by the company at the Huawei Connect conference held recently in Shanghai. According to reports, the Ascend 910 chip is capable of processing data much faster than existing AI chips on the market, making it highly suitable for training networks in a matter of just a few minutes. Ascend 310 is targeted at IoT devices like smartwatches.
Till now, Huawei has mostly focused on designing and manufacturing chips for use in its own smartphones. But with the Ascend series, the company is positioning itself as a supplier of AI chips for business and consumer applications. In fact, Huawei is planning to create an entire ecosystem around artificial intelligence applications where it will be selling whole packages based on the AI chips.
“Going forward, we need to think of new ways to prepare our business and industry for change. There are clear signs that AI will change or disrupt a whole host of industries… AI will also change every organization… AI will change jobs and skills in a way… that is quite different from previous revolutions,” CNBC quotes Huawei Rotating Chairman Eric Xu, who also added: “There will be much less demand for jobs that handle repetitive tasks.”
Huawei may be catching up to U.S. chip manufacturers on the technology front. But there is one area where the Chinese company is seriously lagging behind — trust.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the Chinese military had snuck in spy chips on motherboards manufactured by San Jose-based company Supermicro. The U.S. officials contacted important Supermicro customers and warned them about the security breach. The incident has put all Chinese-manufactured tech items under the high-risk category as far as government use is concerned.
In addition to intelligence agencies from the U.S., security officials from countries like India, the UK, and Australia have also warned governments of potential security breaches if Huawei’s products are used in government departments. Senators from the U.S. even wrote a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warning him not to allow Huawei to participate in the rollout of 5G services in the country.
“While Canada has strong telecommunication security safeguards in place, we have serious concerns that such safeguards are inadequate given what the United States and other allies know about Huawei,” Tech Crunch quotes the letter, which also asks Trudeau to “reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance.”
Warnings from intelligence agencies have prompted several countries to restrict Huawei’s operations. In August, the United States passed the Defense Authorization Act, which prevents local agencies from using Huawei products or services. Shortly thereafter, Australia blocked Huawei from participating in the 5G rollout. Japan is also considering a ban on Huawei’s networking hardware on security grounds.