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Huawei to sell servers powered by own chips

Hisilicon semiconductor arm to provide processors to cloud business

Huawei is to begin selling servers powered by its own processors, which will see it move away from Intel CPUs. 

According to a Reuters report, the processors are made by Huawei's semiconductor company Hisilicon. These chips are featured in some of its smartphones and telecommunications equipment.

Currently, Huawei sells servers powered by Intel processors to telecoms and cloud companies. Huawei has not divulged how many of its servers will make use of its own chips.

The report said that Huawei will be using the 7nm-based Ascend 910 chipset; the firm claims this is twice as powerful as competitor Nvidia's v100. The Ascend 910 chipset will be available summer next year.

The chips won't be on offer to third parties, according to the firm's rotating chairman Eric Xu, speaking at the company's annual global partners' conference, Huawei Connect.

"Since we do not sell to third parties, there is no direct competition between Huawei and chip vendors," Xu said on Wednesday, in response to questions about competition from Qualcomm, AMD and Nvidia. "We provide hardware and cloud computing service."

In addition to Ascend 910, there is also the Ascend 310, a chip for smart devices. Both chipsets are aimed at artificial intelligence applications. The Ascend 910 is focused on datacentre usage. Huawei said the chip can not only process data faster than competitors but would train machine learning models in minutes. The Ascend 310 is aimed at not only smart devices, but also Internet of Things devices using artificial intelligence.

"Going forward we need to think of new ways to prepare our business and industry for change. There are clear signs that AI will change or disrupt a whole host of industries," said Xu.

The firm unveiled its first chip in 2017 Kirin 970. In 2018 it introduced another AI chip Kirin 980 which is expected to be featured in the upcoming Mate 20 flagship handset.

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