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Huawei Ascend 910 SoC, MindSpore AI Framework: Another Stunt To Fight Back The U.S Tech Giants
In just two weeks after announcing a full-fledged distributed operating system- HarmonyOS, Huawei has now officially launched the Ascend 910 processor and an all-scenario AI computing framework, MindSpore. Combined, the new chipset and the AI framework will work towards positioning Huawei as a full-scale service supplier in the AI workspace.
Huawei Ascend 910 is touted to be the world's most powerful AI chipset. It was under development for more than a year and was first introduced last year at the company's 2018 flagship event, Huawei Connect. MindSpore framework, on the other hand, is claimed to offer support for the development of AI applications in all possible scenarios. The new SoC and the framework are engineered to reduce the company's dependency on components sourced from the U.S market.
Today we are taking a closer look at the new Ascend 910 AI processor, which combined with the new framework, has the capability to power smart cars and even smart cities of the future.
More computing power than any other AI processor in the world
The official launch of the new Ascend 910 AI chipset strengthens the company's claims to be an AI powerhouse. The Ascend 910 belongs to Huawei's series of Ascend-Max chipsets and has surpassed the company's expectations in performance and power consumption tests.
As per Huawei, Ascend 910 delivers 256 TeraFLOPS for half-precision floating-point (FP16) operations. The Ascend 910 Cluster has 1024-2048 Ascend 910 chips to reach 256-512 petaFLOPS@FP16. It features 32x Da Vinci AI cores arranged in 4 clusters with high-speed 4x HBM2E memory (1.2 TBps bandwidth), 3x 240Gbps HCCS ports for Numa connections and 2x 100Gbps RoCE interfaces for networking.
For integer precision calculations (INT8), it delivers 512 TeraOPS. Despite its unrivalled performance, Ascend 910's max power consumption is only 310W, much lower than its planned specs (350W).
Designed To Address Complex Tasks Like AI Model Training
The Ascend 910 is a high-performance 300+ watt chipset designed for AI model training. Combined with the MindSpore framework, the AI system picks up a fight with the Google's famous deep learning library- TensorFlow and also with the Intel's brainchild- OpenVINO- Open Visual Inferencing and Neural Network Optimization.
Huawei claims that the combination of Ascend 910 and MindSpore is about two times faster at training AI models than other mainstream training cards using TensorFlow in a typical training session based on ResNet-50. The Ascend 910 SoC and MindSpore also pose a threat to NVIDIA's AI offerings.
How MindSpore Stacks Against Other AI Frameworks
Huawei claims that the MindSpore framework is built around keeping privacy at the centre. The framework can readily adapt to different deployment needs. It helps ensure user privacy because it only deals with gradient and model information that has already been processed. The framework doesn't process the data itself, so private user data can be effectively protected even in cross-scenario environments.
Also, MindSpore has built-in model protection technology to ensure that models are secure and trustworthy. The MindSpore AI framework is adaptable to all scenarios - across all devices, edge, and cloud environments - and provides on-demand cooperation between them. Its "AI Algorithm As Code" design concept allows developers to develop advanced AI applications with ease and train their models more quickly.
Huawei Plans To Release MindSpore As An Open Source AI Framework
Huawei has big plans for its new AI framework. When introducing MindSpore, Xu emphasized Huawei's commitment to helping build a more robust and vibrant AI ecosystem. The company has announced that the MindSpore will go open source in the first quarter of 2020. The company wants to drive broader AI adoption and help developers do what they do best.
Huawei And U.S Tech Cold War
Notably, Huawei announced the HarmonyOS after Google was stopped from doing business with the Chinese tech giant in the U.S market. Huawei has been granted a temporary license to continue to trade with Google in the U.S and some other important markets including India.
The Android-dependency is no doubt a tough nut to crack but Huawei is leaving no stones unturned. With a full-fledged operating system ready to be deployed on multiple platforms and the Ascend 910 AI chipset combined with the MindSpore framework, Huawei is all set to challenge the big fishes from the U.S market.
In the words of Eric Xu, Huawei's Rotating Chairman, "We have been making steady progress since we announced our AI strategy in October last year. Everything is moving forward according to plan, from R&D to product launch. We promised a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio. And today we delivered, with the release of Ascend 910 and MindSpore. This also marks a new stage in Huawei's AI strategy."
This seems just like a start for Huawei. The company has promised to introduce more AI products at its upcoming conference, Huawei Connect 2019, which will be held between September 18 and 20 in Shanghai. We will keep a close eye on Huawei's plans for the AI market. Stay tuned on Gizbot.com.