US measures to limit the export of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) chips to China may create an opening for Huawei Technologies to expand in its $7 billion home market as the curbs force Nvidia to retreat, analysts say.
While Nvidia has historically been the leading provider of AI chips in China with a market share exceeding 90%, Chinese firms including Huawei have been developing their own versions of Nvidia’s best-selling chips, including the A100 and the H100 graphics processing units (GPU).
Huawei’s Ascend AI chips are comparable to Nvidia’s in terms of raw computing power, analysts and some AI firms such as China’s iFlyTek say, but they still lag behind in performance.
Jiang Yifan, chief market analyst at brokerage Guotai Junan Securities, said another key limiting factor for Chinese firms was the reliance of most projects on Nvidia’s chips and software ecosystem, but that could change with the US restrictions.
“This US move, in my opinion, is actually giving Huawei’s Ascend chips a huge gift,” Jiang said in a post on his social media Weibo account.
This opportunity, however, comes with several challenges.
Many cutting edge AI projects are built with CUDA, a popular programming architecture Nvidia has pioneered, which has in turn given rise to a massive global ecosystem that has become capable of training highly sophisticated AI models such as OpenAI’s GPT-4.
Huawei own version is called CANN, and analysts say it is much more limited in terms of the AI models it is capable of training, meaning that Huawei’s chips are far from a plug-and-play substitute for Nvidia.
Woz Ahmed, a former chip design executive turned consultant, said that for Huawei to win Chinese clients from Nvidia, it must replicate the ecosystem Nvidia created, including supporting clients to move their data and models to Huawei’s own platform.
Intellectual property rights are also a problem, as many US firms already hold key patents for GPUs, Ahmed said.
“To get something that’s in the ballpark, it is 5 or 10 years,” he added.
Huawei and Nvidia did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
If Huawei manages to grab Nvidia’s market share, it could claim another victory against the United States, which has targeted the firm with export controls since 2019.
Huawei rolled out the first Ascend GPUs that year and it is one of a number of products – such as its Harmony operating system – that the company says are entirely homegrown.
Over the past year, the telecoms giant has shown signs that it is beating back against the US curbs by unveiling an advanced smartphone chip and making claims of breakthroughs in chip design tools.
It has also set its sights on becoming a key provider of computing power for AI, with Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou saying last month that Huawei wanted to build a computing base for China and give the world a “second option”, in a veiled reference to dominant provider the United States.
Huawei’s partners in China so far include iFlyTek, a leading Chinese AI software company which is using the Ascend 910 to train its AI models. IFlyTek was also blacklisted by the United States in 2019.
On Thursday, during iFlyTek’s earnings call, Senior Vice President Jiang Tao said the Ascend 910B’s capabilities were “comparable to Nvidia’s A100” and announced that it was developing a general-purpose AI infrastructure in China alongside Huawei.
“Our partnership now aims to enable domestically developed LLMs to be built with both homegrown hardware and software technology,” Jiang said.
Other partners include state-owned software firms Tsinghua Tongfang and Digital China. At a conference in July, Huawei said its AI chips now help power more than 30 large language models (LLM) in China, which is going through a generative AI craze and currently has more than 130 LLMs.
Charlie Chai, an analyst with 86Research, said Nvidia’s ecosystem dominance was not “an insurmountable obstacle if domestic players are given sufficient time and a big customer base”.
China’s self-sufficiency push, which has been championed by President Xi Jinping, is likely to aid this. “In short, a small disruption to near-term supplies, but a big boost to the long-term self-sufficiency agenda,” Chai added.
($1 = $1.0000)
AI threat demands new approach to security designs
The potential threat posed by the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) means safeguards need to be built in to systems from the start rather than tacked on later, a top US official said on Monday.
“We’ve normalized a world where technology products come off the line full of vulnerabilities and then consumers are expected to patch those vulnerabilities. We can’t live in that world with AI,” said Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
“It is too powerful, it is moving too fast,” she said in a telephone interview after holding talks in Ottawa with Sami Khoury, head of Canada’s Centre for Cyber Security.
Easterly spoke the same day that agencies from 18 countries, including the United States, endorsed new British-developed guidelines on AI cyber security that focus on secure design, development, deployment and maintenance.
“We have to look at security throughout the lifecycle of that AI capability,” Khoury said.
Earlier this month, leading AI developers agreed to work with governments to test new frontier models before they are released to help manage the risks of the rapidly developing technology.
“I think we have done as much as we possibly could do at this point in time, to help come together with nations around the world, with technology companies, to set out from a technical perspective how to build these build these capabilities as securely and safely as possible,” said Easterly.
ByteDance to restructure Nuverse in retreat from gaming business
TikTok maker ByteDance plans to wind down its Nuverse gaming brand and retreat from mainstream video games, four people familiar with the matter said.
ByteDance told Reuters it had decided to restructure its gaming business after a review, without giving further details.
“We regularly review our businesses and make adjustments to centre on long-term strategic growth areas. Following a recent review, we’ve made the difficult decision to restructure our gaming business,” the spokesperson said.
The sources said ByteDance will tell employees on Monday to stop working on unreleased games by December, and that it will look for ways to divest from titles already launched.
The decision is likely to impact hundreds of employees, some of whom learnt about the move at the weekend, the people said.
The Chinese technology firm has no plan to return to the $185 billion global video games market, they added, declining to be identified as the information was not public.
Casual gaming brand Ohayoo, whose games feature on Douyin – TikTok’s sister app in China – will not be affected, and neither will casual games that run on TikTok, one of the people said.
Reuters reported this month that ByteDance had started seeking buyers for game-developing subsidiary Moonton Technology. It also overhauled its virtual reality company Pico, cutting much of its content team.
ByteDance’s 2019 creation of Nuverse was widely seen as a major push into global gaming and a strategic element of its competition with domestic rival Tencent Holdings, the world’s biggest gaming company.
But Nuverse’s performance has been patchy. Its best-known game is “Marvel Snap”, an online card game that amassed a cult following but was not a commercial hit.
Other titles include action games “One Piece: The Voyage” and “Crystal of Atland”.
Nuverse came into focus again in 2021 when ByteDance formalised its status as one of its six business units under a broader structural overhaul.
To build up production capacity, Nuverse acquired external studios including C4games in 2021.
Four reasons for not missing out on ChatGPT 3 mobile app
The launch of ChatGPT-3 took the world by storm, not only becoming a helping hand for many but also igniting a field of competition among leading tech giants
Building on its web version, OpenAI has also made ChatGPT 3 available on mobile as an app. It is designed to mimic human-like conversation, providing responses that are not just accurate but contextually relevant. Here are some details about the app that you should not miss;
1. Simple User Interface
The developers have put in detailed effort to ensure that the app is not just powerful, but also user-friendly and accessible. With a clean, intuitive design, it caters to both tech-savvy users and those new to AI technology. Additionally, the app includes accessibility features, making it a tool that is truly for everyone.
2. Multi-Language Support
To make it accessible to a maximum number of people, ChatGPT 3 can converse in multiple languages. To opt for a different language, click on the three dots beside your profile icon and choose Main Language from the menu. Choose the desired language and continue searching.
3. Voice Interaction
To enhance usability, the app includes voice-to-text and text-to-voice features, allowing users to have conversations with ChatGPT-3 just like they would with a virtual assistant.
4. Regular Updates and Improvements
Continuous updates based on user feedback and technological advancements keep the app at the forefront of AI capabilities, constantly enhancing its features and usability.
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