Huawei’s plans to enter the GPU market in 2020, taking on NVIDIA

Huawei, the Chinese manufacturing giant known for its smartphones, has had a bit of a rough ride ever since the US government denied it access to Google’s proprietary operating system and services. However, the company has been determined to forge another path ahead through self-sustenance by creating in-house software and hardware units for production.

Currently, Huawei already has the in-house mobile OS, HarmonyOS, and a couple of self-developed chips (CPU and AI chips) which it utilizes in the newer models. Their one lacking front at the moment is GPU, and Huawei plans to go charging in this year with a competitive focus on NVIDIA, the current dominator in the GPU market.

As per certain South Korean media reports, Huawei is setting up a new department in South Korea focused on the GPU market. It claims that with its cloud computing and AI businesses on the way, the GPU market is its next target. Of note is the reports that Huawei is already recruiting for this department, with the recruitment seemingly targetting NVIDIA’s employees and supervisors.

The Ascend 910 AI chip by Huawei

Huawei has had a bit of practical experience with GPU development with last year’s Ascend 910 chip, which surpasses what NVIDIA offers in certain areas, though not the best in entirety.

The Ascent 910 is an accelerator card, not a GPU. It’s based on the Da Vinci architecture, and is used to accelerate AI workloads.

It’s apparent then that Huawei’s AI chips have surpassed GPU’s in the power to performance ratio, but it is to be noted that these AI chips lack general-purpose computing capabilities that GPUs excel at. GPUs are currently an indispensable part of high-performance computing and Huawei cannot circumvent the requirement at the moment.

According to further reports, Huawei’s 2012 laboratory has been already developing its own GPU chip for many years and is not surprising hence that its increasing research into it with the ongoing competition between AMD and NVIDIA making it a ripe time.

However, Huawei’s GPU is not for desktop graphics and is mainly designed for Huawei’s own servers, cloud computing and other departments.

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