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Huawei

Huawei unveils cutting-edge ‘big data’ chip as China pushes for reduced reliance on technology imports

  • New chip is aimed at serving the needs of corporate data centres which process and parse huge amounts of information
  • In-house designed chip should help Huawei to reduce reliance on imports
PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 10:18am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 4:35am

Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment vendor, on Monday unveiled a new cutting-edge central processing unit (CPU) and server series aimed at handling big data, which should help to reduce its reliance on imports at a time of growing trade tensions between China and the US.

The new CPU, called Kunpeng 920, uses a 7-nanometre process which significantly improves processor performance – outstripping the industry benchmark by 25 per cent – while lowering power consumption by about 30 per cent compared to competitors, according to a Huawei press release on Monday.

The Shenzhen-based company, currently embroiled in a wider trade spat between the US and China after Washington said its network equipment could be a security risk, also launched a series of new servers called TaiShan, powered by the Kunpeng 920.

The new products are aimed at serving the needs of corporate data centres, which process big data by running algorithms to enhance business performance and generate customer insights. The new chip is based on the architecture of British chip design firm ARM, which is owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp.

“The ARM industry is seeing a new development opportunity. The [new] Kunpeng 920 CPU and TaiShan servers released by Huawei are primarily used in big data, distributed storage, and ARM native applications,” said William Xu, Huawei’s chief strategy marketing officer, in Monday’s release.

“We will work with global partners in the spirit of openness, collaboration, and shared success to drive the development of the ARM ecosystem and expand the computing space, and embrace a diversified computing era,” said Xu.

The new products can also be seen as supportive of China’s push to become a world leader in cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), chip design, automation and next generation mobile networks.

Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan aims to transform the country into an advanced manufacturing power by targeting 10 emerging sectors including next generation IT, robotics, clean-energy vehicles and biotechnology.

While China views the blueprint as key to achieving its long-term goals, the White House has argued the state-led approach violates World Trade Organisation rules and could create an unfair playing field for foreign investors.

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In October Huawei unveiled two AI-enabled microchips that it said would extend the application of AI to “all walks of life”.

The chips, the Ascend 910 and Ascend 310, form part of the company’s push into cloud infrastructure and are aimed at supporting the company’s “all scenarios” AI strategy, Huawei rotating chairman Eric Xu Zhijun said during the Huawei Connect 2018 conference in Shanghai at that time.

Along with the Kirin 980 chip set released in September – which is used on the company’s mid-to-high-end smartphone handsets with AI features under its main brand and Honor sub-brand – Huawei now owns a relatively comprehensive chip set design capacity, making it less reliant on foreign suppliers such as Qualcomm, AMD and Nvidia.

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“Huawei has invested patiently and intensively in computing innovation to continuously make breakthroughs. We will work with our customers and partners to build a fully connected, intelligent world,” said Xu.