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Huawei launches ‘world's most powerful AI processor’

26 Aug 2019

Huawei has launched the ‘world's most powerful AI processor’, the Ascend 910, as well as an all-scenario AI computing framework, MindSpore.

"We have been making steady progress since we announced our AI strategy in October last year," says Huawei rotating chairman Eric Xu. 

"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."

The Ascend 910 is a new AI processor that belongs to Huawei's series of Ascend-Max chipsets. 

After a year of ongoing development, Huawei claims that test results now show that the Ascend 910 processor delivers on its performance goals with much lower power consumption than originally planned.

For half-precision floating point (FP16) operations, Ascend 910 delivers 256 TeraFLOPS. 

For integer precision calculations (INT8), it delivers 512 TeraOPS. Despite its unrivaled performance, Ascend 910's max power consumption is only 310W, much lower than its planned specs (350W).

"Ascend 910 performs much better than we expected," says Xu. 

"Without a doubt, it has more computing power than any other AI processor in the world."

Ascend 910 is used for AI model training. In a typical training session based on ResNet-50, the combination of Ascend 910 and MindSpore is about two times faster at training AI models than other mainstream training cards using TensorFlow.

Moving forward, Huawei will continue investing in AI processors to deliver more abundant, affordable, and adaptable computing power that meets the needs of a broad range of scenarios (e.g., edge computing, on-vehicle computing for autonomous driving, and training).

Huawei also launched MindSpore, an AI computing framework that supports development for AI applications in all scenarios.

AI computing frameworks are critical to making AI application development easier, making AI applications more pervasive and accessible, and ensuring privacy protection.

As privacy protection grows more important than ever, support for all scenarios is essential for enabling secure, pervasive AI. 

This is a key component in the MindSpore framework, which can readily adapt to different deployment needs. Resource budget environments can be big or simple as needed.

MindSpore helps ensure user privacy because it only deals with gradient and model information that has already been processed. 

It doesn't process the data itself, so private user data can be effectively protected even in cross-scenario environments. In addition, 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.

In a typical neural network for natural language processing (NLP), MindSpore has 20% fewer lines of core code than leading frameworks on the market, and it helps developers raise their efficiency by at least 50%.

Through framework innovation, as well as co-optimisation of MindSpore and Ascend processors, Huawei's solution can help developers more effectively address complex AI computing challenges and the need for a diverse range of computing power for different applications. 

In addition to Ascend processors, MindSpore also supports GPUs, CPUs, and other types of processors.

When introducing MindSpore, Xu emphasised Huawei's commitment to helping build a more robust and vibrant AI ecosystem. 

"MindSpore will go open source in the first quarter of 2020. We want to drive broader AI adoption and help developers do what they do best."

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