Huawei hopes to stand out in smartphone sector with AI chip

Updated 2017-09-04 09:31:09 Global Times

China's Huawei Technologies Co aims to make its next-generation smartphones stand out in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive as the world's three largest smartphone makers - Apple, Samsung and Huawei - have or will soon launch their newest high-end devices.

In a move said to be an industry first, Huawei on Saturday unveiled a new phone chip that incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) technology to improve smartphones' processing speed, power duration, efficiency and user experience.

The Kirin 970 chip will be used for the first time in the next generation of Huawei Mate smartphones, which will be launched on October 16 in Munich, Germany, Yu Chengdong, CEO of the Huawei Consumer Business Group, announced at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

Yu said AI has been widely used in smartphones but these devices mostly rely on cloud computing, which does not provide the full experience of having AI in the devices themselves.

"Device-end AI's distinguishing recognition is the premise for the de-vices to become true assistants to humans. With the support of a powerful, long-enduring chipset, the device will have relatively higher recognition ability and can provide customized services to users," Yu said, according to a statement on the company's website.

The statement said the Kirin 970 chipset is the first phone chip to have a neural network processing unit, which means the chip itself has AI and the phones that incorporate it are not required to connect to a cloud or the Internet, which all phones now on the market do.

The new chipset will improve battery duration 50 times and performance 25 times, according to the statement. For example, the AI chip can process 2,000 every minute, far more than other chipset on the market now, it added.

Xiang Ligang, chief executive of domestic telecom industry news portal cctime.com, said that Huawei is showcasing the new chipset as a selling point and competitive edge for its new Mate smartphones over rival models from Samsung and Apple.

"Huawei doesn't have a clear advantage in hardware innovation like Samsung or in core processors like Apple, so the AI chipset is how it wants to make the new Mate stand out in the market," Xiang told the Global Times on Sunday.

Samsung launched a new model of the embattled Galaxy Note 8 smartphone last week. Apple is expected to launch a new generation of iPhones at an event on September 12.

"With all the new smartphones coming out, the market will be very competitive," Xiang said.

Wang Yanhui, head of the Shanghai-based Mobile China Alliance, told the Global Times that "while Huawei has a long way to go in its AI endeavors, the new chipset certainly puts the company at a good starting point."

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