Huawei Technologies Co officially launched its own computing framework for artificial intelligence on Friday, as the Chinese tech giant aims to develop a better alternative to Google’s TensorFlow platform amid US government restrictions.
The company also announced the commercialization of Ascend 910, an AI chip Huawei called the world’s most powerful AI processor and one which can outperform the US tech giant Nvidia Corp’s rival products.
The moves represent crucial efforts by Huawei to build a full, all-scenario AI portfolio and make AI more pervasive and accessible. They are also designed to beef up Huawei’s in-house research and development capabilities, as Washington’s ban on the company continues.
Xu Zhijun, the rotating chairman of Huawei, said AI computing frameworks are critical to making AI application development easier, making AI applications more pervasive and accessible, and ensuring privacy protection.
“But so far, we have not seen a framework that is adaptable to all scenarios, across all devices, edges, and cloud environments, and that provides on-demand cooperation between them. That is why we launched the MindSpore AI framework,” Xu said.
According to him, MindSpore will go open source in the first quarter of 2020, and he hopes that this framework will help software developers build advanced AI applications with ease and train their models more quickly.
Washington at first put Huawei on the Entity List in May, banning it from buying and accessing technologies originating in the US without special government approval.
Xu said the ban has had no impact on the company’s AI strategy and business at all.
Currently, Google’s TensorFlow is widely used by Chinese software developers to build AI applications and it has a relatively vibrant ecosystem in China.
Xu said, “The biggest challenge for MindSpore is whether we can build a vibrant ecosystem. Our edge lies in our large number of smart devices and strong computing power. The framework coupled with our own AI chip series can greatly boost efficiency and help software developers build advanced AI applications with ease,” Xu added.
Huawei also said that whether the AI market can really boom depends on whether traditional sectors are willing to adopt AI in scale. Currently, the application of AI is still in its infancy, thus offering an opportunity for Huawei to build its own ecosystem.