Huawei Kirin 970 AI processor -- an open platform & ecosystem

Huawei Consumer Business Group has introduced its first mobile engineering offering with a distinct and dedicated Artificial Intelligence (AI) engineering chipset, the Kirin 970.

Positioned as inherently ‘open’ as a technology to serve as a platform for onward development by programmers looking to put AI-driven functionality into applications and information services targeted within the mobile arena, the Chinese telecommunications and cloud company has shipped the Kirin 970 in its new Mate Series devices.

Intelligent machines

Preferring to label its newest Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro devices as so-called ‘intelligent machines’ rather than ‘plain old’ smartphones, Huawei insists that this generation of products can now combine a degree of both cloud AI and on-device AI.

The company suggests that combination of these two streams of AI should now be viewed as a programming platform opportunity for developers who want to bring more AI functionality into the software they produce.

Sensing sensors

Part of where Huawei says developers can look for AI-driven AI-enabled software innovations is the fact that the Kirin 970 does (of course) ship on a mobile device, a smart smartphone. This in and of itself opens the door for AI-analytics focused on the data being produced from a smartphones many sensors.

With contemporary phones now featuring perhaps 20 or so sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, temperature gauge, camera and light sensor, pedometer and so on)… there is a good chance to start chanelling some of these information streams into AI-centric applications.

According to an official Huawei press statement, “By combining individual and collective intelligence for on-device AI, the new Huawei Mate Series delivers real-time responses to users, including AI-powered Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition and an AI Accelerated Translator. Kirin 970 is an open, mobile AI computing platform for third parties to create new and imaginative AI applications and which extends Huawei’s processing capabilities to the entire value chain.”

Speaking at a launch event in the Bavarian city of Munich this month was Christophe Coutelle director of software engineering technology development and branding at Huawei Consumer Business Group (CBG).

Coutelle reflected upon Huawei’s central positioning for these technologies and promised that software application development professionals will find the company to be both engaging and helpful in its dealings with programmers who seek to create new AI tools with the Kirin 970 chipset.

An open AI ecosystem

Huawei wants third party apps to be driven by its own approach to AI chipset engineering.

“This is one of the first flagship devices that ship with Android Oreo operating system. We believe that computing is shifting from mobile first to AI first. Mate 10 will also include Android’s neural network API so developers can enable more AI functionality in their applications… this will come in a software update scheduled for 2018. The device also ships with Google Play protect to provide a security layer,” said Jamie Rosenberg VP Android and Google Play.

NOTE: Breakout sessions at the Mate 10 launch event featured discussions with Kevin Ho in his position as president of Huawei’s handset product line. Pressed on whether Huawei would ultimately see itself working to sell chipset engineering design Intellectual Property (a la ARM, for want of an obvious example) Ho would not elaborate beyond saying that whitepapers would be forthcoming detailing the firm’s specific and detailed plans for the developer ecosystem it wants to build.

The Google Assistant has also been optimised to work on the Mate 10.

The Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro launch with Huawei’s EMUI 8.0 powered by Android 8.0.