Chinese telecom giant Huawei is coming up with a couple of major AI announcements today. The first of them is the launch of a 2018-announced flagship AI processor — the Ascend 910. The second is the announcement of a new ‘all scenario’ AI computing framework called Mindspore.
Lets get going with Ascend 910 first.
The Ascend 910 is a new AI processor that belongs to Huawei’s series of Ascend-Max chipsets. Huawei announced the processor’s planned specs at its 2018 flagship event, Huawei Connect. After a year of ongoing development, 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).
“We have been making steady progress since we announced our AI strategy in October last year,” said Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman. “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.”
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.
Now, coming to Mindspore.
According to a prepared statement from Huawei, MindSpore marks significant progress towards these goals. 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 supports them all.
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%.
Huawei’s AI strategy, which the company outlined last year is pretty clearly, a mixture of both hardware and innovation in software. Coupling its latest Ascend processor with Mindspore computing framework, Huawei is looking to help developers in addressing complex AI computing challenges more effectively.