A Recap of Huawei Connect 2018

As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Huawei Connect 2018 which was held in Shanghai last month came and went (flew by, more like) in what felt like a jiffy. The third edition of Huawei's largest annual integrated conference for the global ICT ecosystem attracted over 20,000 attendees consisting of industry leaders, analysts, media, as well as ICT professionals and enthusiasts from around the globe. DSA was fortunate enough to be invited and be in the thick of the action, so as a recap, we look back at some of the highlights to give you a taste of what went on during the three-day tech fiesta.

Huawei Bets Big on AI Technology
With the launch of the Huawei Ascend chipset, products, and cloud services, Huawei became the first company to announce a full stack of AI solutions designed for a full range of scenarios – which means it will be able to serve implementations and use cases that include public and private clouds, edge computing, as well as industry and consumer IoT devices.

As Huawei Rotating Chairman, Eric Xu, mentioned during his keynote address, “Huawei’s AI strategy is to invest in basic research and talent development, build a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio, and foster an open global ecosystem". In order to make that a possibility, Huawei launched a series of AI chipsets (all based on the same Da Vinci architecture) which are varied in terms of parameters and computing power.

It was an event filled with many exciting announcements Those who weren't able to make it into the main hall were still able to catch the keynote sessions streamed live throughout the exhibition area.

Highlights among Huawei’s various AI-related announcements include the release of the Ascend 310 and 910 AI chips which will empower the capability upgrade of Huawei Cloud Enterprise Intelligence (EI) services.

In essence, Huawei Cloud EI can now provide up to 45 services and 142 functions which cover essential platform services, general APIs, advanced APIs, and pre-integration solutions. Huawei is hoping that these services and functions will be able to make inclusive AI possible, satisfying the needs of different groups including AI senior data scientists, data engineers, common IT engineers, and business personnel.

Huawei also unveiled the Atlas intelligent computing platform powered by the Huawei Ascend series of AI chips and mainstream heterogeneous computing components, covering the end, edge, and cloud deployments to help customers accelerate their digital and intelligent transformation. The new platform, an upgrade of the Atlas intelligent cloud hardware platform released in 2017, consists of:
  • The terminal-facing Atlas 200 AI accelerator module, which is packaged in a form factor half the size of a credit card and supports 16-channel real-time HD video analytics. Deployed on devices such as cameras and drones, Atlas 200 consumes only about 10 W of power.
  • The DC-facing Atlas 300 AI accelerator card comes in a half-height, half-length PCIe standard card form factor, and is positioned for data centre and edge server scenarios, providing the necessary compute power for deep learning and inference.
  • The edge-oriented Atlas 500 AI edge station integrates AI processing capabilities and supports 16-channel HD video processing in the size of a set-top box, delivering a 4x performance over existing products in the marketplace. The AI edge station is well suited for a broad range of applications, such as transportation, nursing and care, unattended retail, and smart manufacturing.
  • The one-stop AI platform, Atlas 800 AI appliance, is designed to provide an optimized AI environment to greatly reducing the entry requirements for enterprise AI applications.

A Glimpse of the Future
What’s also interesting is Huawei’s venture into in the field of autonomous or intelligent connected vehicles (ICV), in the form of the company’s collaboration with Audi. During the event, Huawei demonstrated how its Mobile Data Center (MDC) is integrated into the Audi Q7 for urban automatic driving environments and the actual prototype was showcased to the public on the Huawei Connect sprawling exhibition floor.

There, visitors were given the chance to have a glimpse of what the future of technology holds, with various “futuristic” products and prototypes on hand from local and international vendors. For example visitors had the opportunity to experience how TrafficGo, Huawei's EI Traffic Intelligent Twins solution, can be deployed to bring a new era of AI-powered traffic management; step into the shoes of a future delivery person, sorting and packing parcels with AI assistance; and take a closer look at up and coming technologies (such as 5G, AR/VR and quantum computing) that are set to revolutionise the way we live, work and play.

It’s an unusual name, but to clarify, the EI City Intelligent Twins solution makes use of the power of AI to find synergies between different technologies that include cloud, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing. It enables closed-loop data management, from data generation to data analysis, to enable more efficient ways of allocating resource in transport, environment protection, emergency response, and public utility systems.

A crowd of 20 thousand strong queing outside the Shanghai World EXPO Exhibition & Convention Center Inside, the exhibition hall had over 120 partners from 19 industries and technology domains

Huawei also updated its industry-oriented Intent-Driven Network (IDN) solution, which helps enterprise customers build user experience-centric intelligent networks. The solution creates synergy between the digital world and physical communications networks to maximize network value and help industry customers maximize their business value.

In the Huawei + AI exhibition area, Huawei coders demonstrated the new AI development platform ModelArts. It supports the full process of model and application development in an AI environment. There was also the vision AI development platform HiLens. This platform delivers intelligence to robots, so that they can follow human gestures to open doors or kick a ball.
Other New Developments and the Rising Tide
Among other notable announcements include Huawei Enterprise Business Group’s new digital platform strategy which outlines the “Digital Platform + X + Ecosystem” approach with the aim of enabling governments and enterprises to accelerate digital transformation and achieve new levels of innovation and growth. The “X” in this case refers to new capabilities that organisations wish to integrate within their ecosystem such as AI, IoT, big data, security or integrated communications platform (ICP).

In line with Huawei’s open approach to build a win-win ecosystem for its customers, Huawei’s products and solutions can interoperate with those from other providers. This gives customers not only the freedom to choose the best solutions that suits their unique requirements, but they can also digitally transform more efficiently – by putting their focus on creating business value rather than the integration of the underlying technologies.

Meanwhile, at the Global Industry Organisation (GIO) roundtable, Huawei announced a three-year plan for collaboration on technology, digital transformation and inclusive AI among global industries – committing to invest more in innovative industry applications and multilateral cooperation, as well as building up digital and intelligent platforms that will support industry organisations.

The Global Industry Organisation (GIO) roundtable The media had plenty of chance to get up close and personal with Huawei execs via press conferences and briefing sessions

There was certainly a lot of activity packed into those three short days and we’ve barely covered the surface. The whole event, slew of announcements, use cases and tech demos have showcased that Huawei means business and the company is now on track to growing its international presence further and becoming a global IT company to be reckoned with.

On whether international vendors, especially in the US and European markets, should be worried about the increasing competition brought on by Huawei, here’s Eric Xu’s take on the matter. “The market cannot be called a market if it is one without competition. So I think different players in the market welcome competition because competition motivates people to make further progress.”

He added, “Is Huawei going to compete and do better than other vendors?  That is dependent on how well we have been doing in the business.” We have to agree. As the old adage goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Having Huawei’s ongoing commitment to the advancement of technology and talent-building as they have shown so far will definitely keep their rivals and partners on their toes, and that can only be good for the industry and those whose lives are affected by these technologies – which in these days include almost everyone.

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