Big AI problem? Ask Huawei Cloud

Huawei’s new Atlas 900 cluster for AI processing ran the ResNet-50 test in 59.8 seconds. Ken Hu claims that is 10 seconds faster than the previous record. At Huawei’s big Connect 2019, Hu offered

We’re making it available at a great discount for universities and research institutes around the world. If you’re interested, go ahead and apply now – we’d love to have you try it out.

I’m sure that’s a genuine offer; no company has been more generous with basic research than Huawei and its US$17B R & D budget. The inhouse developed operating system, a major achievement, will go open source in a few months. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Baidu have the capability, but few other non-classified entities.

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Huawei new Kirin 990 contains advanced ARM 77

Apparently, ARM has dodged the American blockade and is now selling its most advanced designs to Huawei. Arm China spokesperson Liang Quan tells Sina.com
 
“We are actually actively communicating …  we have recently confirmed that Arm’s follow-up infrastructure can also be licensed to Chinese customers, including Huawei.”
 
ARM processors are the heart of Huawei’s mobile chips; ARM’s public cutoff of Huawei could have been a major problem. ARM UK’s official comment is  
 

Arm continues to comply with the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Commerce Department. Under those current guidelines, Arm cannot license any IP subject to U.S. export controls to HiSilicon unless granted an export license by the US Commerce Department. However we are not providing any details on which Arm IP products are subject to U.S. export controls.

which I consider a non-denial. I have to go with what I have.  
 
I’ve passed the story to a DC reporter who will presumably get the facts. Tech reporters are also about to jump on this with the Kirin 990 announcement.
 
ARM is a British company owned by Softbank in Japan.  It was a great coup when the US security apparatus persuaded the company to cut off Huawei, one of ARM’s most important customers. 

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Huawei: U.S. hacking us

I shouldn’t have been surprised by the news that the US is attacking Huawei’s systems. As Ed Snowden taught us, the US monitors an extraordinary section of the Internet.

The Huawei statement below describes in colorful terms the pressure and harassment of Huawei employees and partners. It reads true. But I believe one comment about the U.S. to be inaccurate: “it has been using every tool at its disposal.”

I do not believe Huawei has been the object of missiles fired from U.S. drones. Nor have I seen any evidence of the work of CIA assassins, as documented in the Frank Church congressional hearings.

The WSJ, as noted below, seems to be doing sloppy journalism perhaps from targeted government leaks.

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Berkeley, Stanford funded

Goldsmith with honorary PhD

The research group of Andrea Goldsmith at Stanford, one of the world’s leading communications researchers, received about half its funding from Huawei. Matt Drange now reports that the company has donated $7 million to Berkeley. It has also been a supporter of MIT’s Media Lab and spends $300 million per year supporting university research around the world.

Universities in the US have a strong tradition of academic freedom, but all three universities have now forbidden faculty from accepting funding from Huawei. Two senior faculty members have confirmed to me the US government put the universities under pressure. Neither is funded by Huawei. MIT gets half a billion a year in federal funding.

Nearly all the money went to basic research, for which corporate money is rare.

Dredge has a useful set of documents from Berkeley with details of the grants.

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Huawei’s very red world

This map shows countries working with Huawei 5G in red and pink. Huawei is doing very well in 5G, although it’s not as dominant as the colors here suggest.

Ericsson is actually close to Huawei in 5G revenue, aided by the ban in the US and Australia. Years ago, Huawei was the price leader in order to break in to the European market. That’s no longer true, despite all the reporters that continue to make that claim. Ericsson made a corporate decision to match and occasionally beat Huawei’s prices.

Ren made a remarkable comment that Huawei would be hurt if it forced Nokia and Ericsson out of the market. Both are struggling financially. Ren made the point that competition spurs Huawei to do better. I’m sure he’s also aware of the political implications of knocking out Europe’s champions.

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