Huawei Technologies Co. wants to reduce its dependence on some of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturers.
On Wednesday, the Chinese tech giant unveiled two new artificial intelligence (AI) chips serving data centers and smart devices at a conference in Shanghai. Huawei, which earlier this year overtook Apple Inc. (AAPL) to become the world’s second-biggest seller of smartphones, claimed that its new chips can go toe-to-toe with rival designs from the likes of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), Intel Corp. (INTC), Nvidia Corp. (NVDA), Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (SSNLF). (See also: After Passing Apple, Huawei Sets Sights on Samsung.)
The company added that its Ascend 910 chip for data centers is twice as powerful as Nvidia’s v100, its nearest competitor, reported Reuters. Meanwhile, Huawei’s other new introduction, the Ascend 310, is aimed at internet-connected devices such as smartphones and smartwatches. The latter is available immediately, while the former is expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2019. Both products will be sold as part of packages to third parties and not by themselves.
“Since we do not sell to third parties, there is no direct competition between Huawei and chip vendors,” the company’s rotating chair Eric Xu said on Wednesday, according to Reuters, in response to questions about competition from companies such as Qualcomm, AMD and Nvidia. “We provide hardware and cloud computing service.”
Huawei’s new chips form part of its plan to “greatly accelerate AI adoption in all industries” and strengthen the cloud computing business it set up last year. The company intends to sell some servers powered by its own chips for the first time to better challenge homegrown rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA).
Until now, Huawei only designed and manufactured chips for its own smartphones, including the AI-capable “Kirin” processors. According to Reuters, the servers it currently sells to telecom companies and cloud computing clients mostly use Intel chips.
The company’s AI chip ambitions match Beijing’s intention to build a semiconductor industry that can gradually reduce China’s dependence on foreign imports, reported Bloomberg. However, Huawei’s close ties to the Chinese government, together with complaints about the security of its equipment, have impacted its overseas operations.
No major carriers in the U.S. currently sell its smartphones. In August, President Donald Trump signed a bill banning government use of Huawei technology. (See also: US Govt Backs Apple, Amazon Denials of Spy Chip Report.)