Huawei’s Ascend 910B can reportedly outperform Nvidia’s A100

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Huawei’s Ascend 910B AI chip reportedly caught Nvidia’s attention. Nvidia sees the Chinese technology giant as a potential competitor in the AI chip market – at least in China.

Despite US sanctions restricting Huawei’s semiconductor development, the company has been strengthening its chip business through partnerships with various domestic suppliers, the South China Morning Post reports, citing sources familiar with the situation.

One result is said to be the Ascend 910B. According to semiconductor research firm SemiAnalysis, Huawei’s new AI chip is on par or slightly better than Nvidia’s A100 GPU in terms of AI processing power.

The chip, manufactured by China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) using the 7-nanometer process, is already available through mainland distribution channels.

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In August, Baidu reportedly ordered 1,600 Ascend 910B chips, and iFlytek launched its Feixing One computing platform based on Huawei’s Ascend chips.

Industry insiders and analysts see the chip as a potential replacement for Nvidia products in China, where Nvidia is only allowed to sell AI chips with limited performance due to U.S. sanctions.

The chip is the successor to the Ascend 910, which was released in August 2019. It was banned from being imported into the United States, citing national security concerns. Huawei has not officially commented on the 910B.

Similar to Nvidia, Huawei wants to optimize the integration of hardware and software. Huawei’s proprietary Compute Architecture for Neural Networks platform combines Ascend hardware and software to maximize the performance of AI chips. However, Huawei is still a long way from Nvidia’s CUDA ecosystem, which has more than two million registered developers.

USA restricts Nvidia’s China business

Nvidia is developing several new AI chips specifically for the Chinese market, including the H20 GPU and possibly a localized version of the RTX 4090.

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