Huawei Technologies Co. has launched its own semiconductor, the Ascend series chips. It hopes the machine-learning capable chips will be able to compete punch for punch with designs from Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp.
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 Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and homegrown rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Huawei’s expansion into what can be called an empire comes in the wake of the trade war between the US and China, it’s home country, an effort by America to limit China’s aggressive economic expansion globally. 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.
‘Huawei’s AI strategy is built on top of continued investment in basic technologies and talent training,’ Chairman Eric Xu told the Huawei Connect conference in Shanghai.
The company’s AI chips underpin that strategic thrust and align with Beijing’s express intention to build a domestic semiconductor industry that can gradually wean China off foreign imports. Huawei already designs AI-capable ‘Kirin’ processors for its own smartphones, shipments of which pulled ahead of Apple for the first time in the second quarter. The Kirin line can, among other things, adjust computing resources based on usage.
Huawei is in some respects, the world’s largest provider of networking equipment, having outperformed companies like Ericsson with growing sales in Europe. The company is, however, facing scrutiny that is threatening it’s overseas business which makes up an estimated 70 percent of its revenue.
Fears over the security of its equipment have earned it a ban from the US. Australia and a few other developed markets have also barred the company’s telecom equipment due to similar concerns