Huawei introduces Ascend 910 AI chip and MindSpore framework as national security blacklist spurs efforts to reduce reliances on US tech
Huawei said on Friday it expects to lose $10 billion (£8bn) in revenues this year to sanctions imposed by the US in May, lower than an earlier estimate of $30bn.
The company made the remarks as it unveiled a new AI chip and computing framework as part of broader efforts to phase out its reliance on technology made in the US.
Huawei deputy chairman Eric Xu said the company was doing “much better” than initially feared, but that a sales “reduction of more than $10bn could happen”.
The company’s revenues gained a boost from domestic sales, which surged by nearly one-third year-on-year in the June quarter.
In May the US placed Huawei on a national security “entity list” that prevents US firms from trading with it, and while it has thus far imposed a series of delays that have prevented the sanctions from taking place, the uncertainty has led to a steep drop in Huawei’s global sales.
Xu said the latest reprieve, issued last week, was “meaningless” and that the company and its staff were “fully prepared” to continue operations under the ban.
His remarks were made at an event in Shenzhen to introduce the new Ascend 910 AI processor, developed by Huawei’s HiSilicon subsidiary, which the company said outperforms competition from the likes of Qualcomm and Nvidia.
“Without a doubt, it has more computing power than any other AI processor in the world,” Xu said.
He reiterated that HiSilicon chips are intended for Huawei’s own use and that the company does not intend to compete with the likes of Intel and Samsung in selling chips to third parties.
Huawei also introduced MindSpore, an AI computing framework that Xu said was twice as fast as Google’s TensorFlow when used with the 910.
While ARM said it would halt further deals with Huawei in line with the US blacklist, Xu said Huawei’s perpetual ownership of a licence to the ARMv8 instruction set used in the Ascend 910 meant production of the new chip would not be affected.
He said Huawei is no longer able to deal with US chip designers such as Cadence Design Systems or Synopsis, but that it would find alternatives.
“Intel started to develop chips in the 1970s, when those companies didn’t exist,” Xu said.
Earlier this month Huawei announced HarmonyOS, a home-grown operating system for embedded devices such as watches and televisions that it said could also be used in smartphones as an Android replacement should the need arise.