Huawei details AI strategy, announces new portfolio built around Artificial Intelligence

Huawei's new AI chips to compete against Qualcomm and Nvidia

The world's largest telecom-equipment maker, Huawei has unveiled two new AI chips at its annual global partners' conference. Moreover, around 90% of the device users would have a smart digital assistant. Huawei said it will sell whole packages based on the chips to third parties, rather than just the chips themselves.

The world's No. 2 smartphone brand by sales volume is on track to sell 200 million phones this year, up from 153 million units last year, thanks to its new AI-capable phones with its Kirin 970 chips, he noted.

Taking on the likes of Nvidia and Intel, especially the latter given its the largest supplier of server chips, would be a bold move by Huawei. 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.

AI was a powerful general-purpose technology like computing in the 20th century, and would make Huawei's existing solutions and services more competitive, Xu said.

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.

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It is also introducing cloud computing services and dedicated data centers for autonomous vehicles that are to run off those chips, delving deeper into territory staked out by Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴).

"AI will change jobs and skills in a way that is quite different from previous revolutions", said Xu. "In the consumer market, HiAI will bring true intelligence to our consumer devices, making them smarter than ever", Xu noted.

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 - an effort that's raised hackles in the U.S. Its expanded ambitions come as Washington, trying to contain China's rapid ascent, wages a war of tariffs against its closest economic rival. Its portfolio will also include an AI acceleration card, AI server, AI appliances and many other products.

Huawei's AI strategy has multiple key focus areas, including investment in AI research, development of open ecosystem/talent, and driving operational efficiency. And that there are enough data scientists and subject matter experts to make it all add up to real business value.

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