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Huawei introduces flagship AI capable chipset to Africa

Huawei introduces flagship AI capable chipset to Africa

Huawei has introduced its first AI capable chipset, the Kirin 970, to the Africa market.

The original equipment manufacturer says the chipset, first unveiled in Germany last month, represents the initial stages of a long-term AI strategy, one developed and to be rolled out after the company recognised that AI capability will emerge as a game changer within the global smartphone market.

Akram Mohamed, Product Marketing Director at Huawei says the Kirin 970 chipset, which will be installed into its devices in the near future, forms the foundation of an AI platform.

"When we announced AI, many consumers (thought) we are talking about a virtual assistant or one feature or functionality. This is much more than that. What we have done with the Kirin 970 is launch a new computing platform and that is at the core of it. We have launched a system that will be able to enhance AI experience over the years to come. Our System on Chip (SoC) strategy is about enhancing user experience and this is why we wanted to introduce innovation that will be as impactful as the launch of the smartphone many years ago. The industry has been stagnant and the real game changer that will change how we interact with our phones will be the evolution to intelligence. It is not just a chip, we are moving on from smartphones to intelligent phones."

Akram says the low power consumption and fast processing of the Kirin 970 will ensure that mobile devices can be integrated into a world of high speed connectivity when 5G is introduced, as normal smartphones will battle to handle higher capacities.

"The Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which is the brain of the Kirin 970 chipset, which is what drives the performance, is half the size of the CPU - but it is still able to also offer 25 times the performance. That is the real benefit to the user. Performance has been increased by twenty five, but power consumption has been optimised and reduced by fifty percent, which offers more functionality and greater processing ability."

Huawei says the tests it conducted on the Kirin 970 showed it can process 2,000 images per minute. The SoC is powered by an 8-core CPU and a 12-core GPU. The chipset uses a 10 nm advanced process and packs 5.5 billion transistors into an area of one cm² according to the company.

Likun Zhao, General Manager of Huawei Consumer Business Group says the choice of South Africa as the first location in Africa to launch the Kirin 970 falls in line with its investment strategy to focus on the South Africa smartphone market over African counterparts – for now.

"Our premium device market share globally is now at 14 percent. In January this year we were at 7 percent in South Africa and by the end of August 2017 our market share here increased to 13 percent. This is progress based on our P10 and P10 plus. We put a lot of resources in the South African market, we are doing our best to push Huawei headquarters to lower the cost of our devices so that they can match the African consumer. Next year we will focus on the rest of the continent, particularly with the entry level 4G devices. Our strategy for African countries will include moving devices from the flagship and middle level to the entry level. In addition to South Africa, we will focus on Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and other key countries. We want to make a contribution to the migration of the consumer."

Zhao says African companies and developers should spend time developing useful applications based on the Kirin 970 as it will be open to for use by them when it eventually forms part of Huawei devices sold in this market over the next few years.

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