Huawei launches AI chip Ascend 910 for AI model training

Huawei rotating chairman Eric Xu shows off the Ascend 910 AI processor. (Huawei)

Huawei launched commercial availability of the Ascend 910 chip on Friday to provide artificial intelligence (AI) model training capabilities for data centers.

It was first unveiled last October as a chip designed to process data needed to train AI applications faster than the competition.

The announcement comes as Huawei faces continued U.S. trade pressure, having been added to a U.S. Commerce Department entity list in May. The company was recently granted a partial reprieve of 90 days to let U.S. firms finish up their contractual relationships with Huawei.

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Huawei stands to be hurt by losing access to key U.S. suppliers for its technology, but the Ascend 910 puts Huawei more directly in competition with U.S. chipmakers Qualcomm, Intel and Nvidia, among others. Samsung, based in Korea, is another competitor.

Eric Xu, Huawei’s rotating chairman, called the Ascend 910 “a new stage in Huawei’s AI strategy,” in a news release.

The Ascend 910 comes in with maximum power consumption of only 310 watts “much lower than its planned spec” of 350 watts. It will deliver 256 TeraFLOPS for half-precision floating point operations and 512 TeraOPS for integer precision calculations, Huawei said.

“Without a doubt, it has more computing power than any other AI processor in the world,” Xu added. 

When used in AI model training based on ResNet-50, the Ascend 910 with MindSpore (an AI computing framework) ran about twice as fast than other mainstream training chips using TensorFlow, Huawei said. 

Huawei plans to continue investing in AI processors to deliver “more abundant, affordable and adaptable computing power that meets the needs of a broad range of scenarios,” the company said, referring to edge computing, on-vehicle computing for autonomous driving and training.

Huawei also launched its HarmonyOS, an open source operating system for consumer devices, on Aug. 9.

RELATED: Huawei unveils open source HarmonyOS for consumer devices

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