Huawei doubles, triples and quadruples down on AI

Huawei has stoked the artificial intelligence fire as the industry continues along the path towards the digital, data-orientated, economy.

It’s a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio according to Huawei. New services and new products, which happen to be built on-top of a new series of AI chips, known as Ascend. There’s more AI than you can shake your finger at and so much use of the word ‘Intelligence’ you have to wonder what the team is compensating for.

“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 Eric Xu, the current Rotating CEO, during the keynote session at Huawei Connect in Shanghai.

“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.”

Looking at the new chips, Ascend 910 is aimed at data centres with Huawei claiming the chip can process more data, faster than its competitors and train networks in a matter of minutes, instead of weeks or months. Ascend 310 has been designed for internet-connected devices ranging from smartphones to IoT devices. While Huawei already has a presence in the AI chip market with its Kirin series (designed for smartphones), these devices seem geared more towards the enterprise business unit, the ugly duckling of the Huawei family.

The enterprise business completes the connectivity ecosystem which Huawei has been hoping to create, though success has not been on par with the industry-leading networking team, or the consumer unit. On the consumer side of things, Huawei recently overtook Apple as the number two smartphone brand worldwide. The Ascend series takes Huawei into the hardware segment of the enterprise world, supporting its software and services offerings.

Of course, this is only one aspect of the overarching AI strategy which has more of a brand-marketing feel. The whole Huawei brand is being positioned as smarter and more proactive than competitors. The full-stack AI portfolio is one aspect of this strategy, though the team also promises to introduce an AI mindset and techniques into existing products and solutions to create greater value. AI is more than a service or product to Huawei, the concept of AI has been elevated to brand and corporate level.

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