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Focus on computing could challenge industry leaders like Google: analysts
Visitors check out devices at the Huawei Connect 2019 in Shanghai on Wednesday. Photo: Shen Weiduo/GT
Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies on Wednesday unveiled its ambition in the computing sector by laying out its strategy for the $2 trillion sector and releasing what it claims to be the world’s fastest artificial intelligence (AI) training cluster, the Atlas 900, a move that industry analysts said could challenge industry giants like Google.
Huawei’s foray into the computing area also comes after steady progress it made in 5G businesses and the proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, showing the industry giant’s defiance and resilience amid the US intensified crackdown over the past year. it also marks another milestone for the company, said analysts.
“When most people think Huawei, they think connections…But our work doesn’t stop at connectivity. Both connections and computing are key,” Ken Hu (Houkun), deputy chairman of Huawei, spoke of Huawei’s ambitions in the industry at the Huawei Connect 2019, an annual conference held by the industry giant in Shanghai, which runs from Wednesday to Friday.
“In terms of Huawei’s investment, they’re equally important. In the past, we mostly talked about connections. Today I’d like to focus on computing,” Hu said. The future of computing is a massive market worth more than $2 trillion by 2023, where Huawei wants to carve out a space.
Huawei also introduced sectors it will focus on in the industry, including architectural innovation, investment in its all-scenario processors and the construction of an open ecosystem, which will involve an investment of another $1.5 billion in its developer program.
From the launch of its chip series and proprietary operating system to servers, to the computing layout, it is stepping up efforts to build up a comprehensive ability amid the US’ intensified crackdown, Xiang Ligang, a Beijing-based veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Xiang said these moves indicate the US crackdown will not contain the company’s growth.
Apart from the official debut of its computing strategy, Huawei on Wednesday also unveiled the Atlas 900, which it claimed is the fastest AI training cluster that combines the power of thousands of its proprietary Ascend processors.
Building on the technical strength it has developed over the past decade, Huawei said that Atlas 900 takes only 59.8 seconds to train ResNet-50, a type of artificial neural network that is the gold standard for measuring AI training performance. This is 10 seconds faster than the previous world record.
“The layout in the computing sector and launch of training clusters mainly aim to serve as rivals to industry giants like Google, which now has the strongest computing power in the world. The world’s major breakthroughs in the AI sector also come from Google,” Jiang Junmu, chief writer at the telecom industry news website c114.com.cn, who covers Huawei closely, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The biggest barrier to AI development is the lack of computing ability, but this is also where Huawei sees opportunity, Jiang said.
US ban effect
Being on a US blacklist since May 16, which restricts many US companies from selling products to Huawei, has cast a shadow on its businesses. While playing down the US effect, Hu said on Wednesday during the opening remarks that “Huawei has been doing just fine, like the good weather in Shanghai today.”
He told reporters that Huawei has secured more than 50 contracts even amid the baseless security accusations from the US, and the number is still increasing. He estimated that 5G businesses will start contributing to revenue by the end of next year with the full roll-out of 5G services in China.
Still, insiders pointed out uncertainties for the giant. For instance, the company, which is also the world’s second-largest smartphone maker, is scheduled to launch a high-end smartphone Mate 30 series on Thursday. Whether the new handset will be able to run Google’s Android operating system and apps may affect its sales.
Huawei rotating chairman Eric Xu (Zhijun) said last month that while the impact of the US curbs was weaker than previously expected, there would still be at least $10 billion in losses in its smartphone unit’s revenue this year.
An insider told the Global Times on the sidelines of the conference that it’s unclear whether Huawei’s own computing architecture and proprietary HarmonyOS could support its devices and meet consumer expectations.
“The company is doing OK, but it still has holes to be fixed in the face of unclear prospects,” the insider said.
Newspaper headline: Huawei launches ‘fastest’ AI cluster
Huawei unveils flagship Mate 30 series, along with Watch GT 2 smartwatch and Vision TV
Design-wise, the Mate 30 Pro comes with anarrow notch, slim bezels and an edge-to-edge Horizon Display, whichcurves at an 88° angle, to maximise the screen real estate. — Photos:KHOR SOW YEE/The Star
Huawei has unveiled its latest flagship smartphones, the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro – along with a Mate 30 Pro Porsche variant and a Mate 30 Pro 5G model – at a launch event in Munich, Germany.
The Mate 30 range is powered by the new Kirin 990 SoC chipset. The 5G models, however, are powered by the Kirin 990 5G chipset – the first to integrate both processing units and a 5G modem on the same chip – making these devices the “world’s first second-generation 5G smartphones that support 4K video calls”, claims Huawei.
“The era of 5G is an opportunity to rethink the smartphone technology and the Huawei Mate 30 series is the ultimate expression of what’s possible,” said Huawei business group CEO Richard Yu.
Design-wise, the Mate 30 Pro comes with a narrow notch, slim bezels and an edge-to-edge Horizon Display, which curves at an 88° angle, to maximise the screen real estate.
It has also eliminated the side volume buttons and replaced them with virtual keys, allowing users to position them on either side of the phone – a handy feature for both left- and right-handed users.
The Mate 30 series sports a triple/quad camera system, with a ring design surrounded by a metallic “halo”.
Mate 30 Pro has a 40-megapixel SuperSensing camera with wide-angle lens, a 40-megapixel camera with ultra-wide angle lens, an 8-megapixel camera with telephoto lens, and a 3D depth sensing camera.
For the Mate 30, this comprises a 40-megapixel SuperSensing camera, a 16-megapixel camera with ultra wide-angle lens and an 8-megapixel camera with telephoto lens.
The smartphone also boasts optical image stabilisation (OIS), along with laser focus, which together are capable of 2.5cm macro photography and max ISO of 204800.
Meanwhile, its larger sibling the Mate 30 Pro comes with a 40-megapixel SuperSensing camera with wide-angle lens, a 40-megapixel camera with ultra-wide angle lens, an 8-megapixel camera with telephoto lens, and a 3D depth sensing camera.
The SuperSensing camera features a dual main-camera system with a max video ISO rating of 51200 to capture videos at super slow-motion at up to 7,680fps (frames per second), as well as 4K ultra-wide angle low-light time-lapse video and real-time Bokeh.
The second of the dual-camera system promises brilliant results in low-light conditions with ISO 409600 light sensitivity.
Huawei says that the 8-megapixel camera on the phones offer 3x optical zoom, 5x hybrid zoom and up to 30x digital zoom.
The front-facing camera on the Mate 30 also comes with 3D depth sensing that is purportedly able to deliver pro-Bokeh effects with accurate depth-of-field info for selfies and portraits.
The front-facing camera also comes with 3D depth sensing that is purportedly able to deliver pro-Bokeh effects with accurate depth-of-field info for selfies and portraits.
Other features include an always-on display with a lock screen that changes colour throughout the day, AI gesture control for contactless interaction, HiCar smart travel for seamless connectivity with a car’s on-board communication and entertainment systems, 3D face unlock and in-screen fingerprint sensor (Mate 30 Pro only).
Huawei has eliminated the side volume buttons and replaced them with virtual ones on the Mate 30 Pro (pic) and Mate 30.
The 6.62in Mate 30 has a 4,200mAh battery, while the 6.53in Mate 30 Pro has with a 4,500mAh battery. Both support fast wired and wireless charging, while the Mate 30 Pro provides upgraded reverse wireless charging for other compatible devices.
The Huawei Mate 30 with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage will retail at €799 (RM3.700), while the Mate 30 Pro with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage will go for €1,099 (RM5,100) for the non-5G version and €1,199 (RM5,550) for the 5G model.
The phones will be available in Emerald Green, Space Silver, Cosmic Purple, and Black, while the Forest Green and Orange will be available in vegan leather.
The Porsche Design Huawei Mate 30 RS, a variant of the Pro, has 12GB RAM and 512GB storage, and will be available in red or black with leather finishing on the back and will retail at €2,095 (RM9,700).
Local prices and availability have yet to be announced.
Besides the Mate series, Huawei also announced the Watch GT 2, which is powered by the Kirin A1 chip and boasts a claimed battery life of 14 days per charge.
It will also come with new functions such as 15 smart workout modes with 10 training modes just for running, an enhanced music player, and the ability to answer voice calls on the watch via Bluetooth.
The Huawei Watch GT 2 smartwatch will come in two sizes; a 42mm version with a 1.2in Amoled display and a 46mm version with a 1.39in Amoled display, and will be available in October for €229 (RM1,050) and €249 (RM1,150), respectively.
Huawei also announced the availability of its FreeBuds 3 wireless Bluetooth earphones which feature active noise cancellation and ultra-low audio latency.
The black and white versions of FreeBuds 3 will be available in China, Europe, Middle East, Russia, Asia Pacific and Latin America from November at €179 (RM850).
One more device that was revealed was a TV dubbed Huawei Vision, with a 4K quantum dot screen (55in, 65in, 75in) and refresh rate of up to 120Hz, as well as “perceptive AI-eye” function with AI video call, face recognition and tracking features, and control centre for smart home devices. However, no pricing or availability was announced.
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