Xu said that they will not sell the chips directly to third-party companies but offer the products and services that house the chips.
Ramping up chip design is also part of Huawei's broader plan to increase its enterprise business, which only accounted for 9% of its total revenue previous year. Backed by its AI portfolio, Huawei Cloud EI will be able to deliver a full-stack portfolio for enterprise and government customers. The company also introduced cloud computing services and data centers for autonomous vehicles that will run on the new chips.
AI will also need to synergise better with other technologies, such as cloud, the internet of things (IoT), edge computing, blockchain and big data.
"I think this is a very natural phenomenon in the business", he added.
It's a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio according to Huawei. "Our portfolio will also include an AI acceleration card, AI server, AI appliance, and many other products", said Xu. In April 2018, Huawei announced HiAI, its AI engine for smart devices. Created to build an AI infrastructure covering the end, edge and cloud, the new Atlas includes the terminal-facing Atlas 200 AI accelerator module, the DC-facing Atlas 300 AI accelerator card, the edge-oriented Atlas 500 AI edge station, and the Atlas 800 AI appliance for enterprises. "We are working towards making AI more inclusive - making it affordable, effective and reliable for all", he said.
The company's AI chip ambitions match Beijing's intention to build a semiconductor industry that can gradually reduce China's dependence on foreign imports, reported Bloomberg. "This requires so much labour", said Xu.
"At present, AI projects are always labour-intensive, especially during the data labelling process. When this platform is in place, AI will become a basic skill of all application developers, even all IT workers". "That means providing intelligent, automated and easy-to-use AI platforms, tools, services, and training and education programmes to foster a huge number of data science engineers", he said.
The world's No. 2 smartphone brand by sales volume is on track to sell 200 million phones this year, up from 153 million units last year, thanks to its new AI-capable phones with its Kirin 970 chips, he noted.
However, Dang Wenshuan, Huawei's chief strategy architect, explained that the benefits of a unified architecture are "quite clear", including: one-time ops development, consistent development and debugging, and smooth migration across device, edge, and cloud. But Xu pointed out there is a growing gap between its development and sluggish enterprise adoption - only around 4% of enterprises have invested in or deployed the technology.