Huawei pushes for cloud top spot with next-gen server chips

Clare Hopping

8 Jan, 2019

Huawei has unveiled its 7nm Kunpeng 920 chipset, which it claims is the industry’s highest performance ARM-based CPU.

In addition to boosting the performance of the infrastructure powering big data, distributed storage and AI, the tech giant has its sights set on using the new launch – which will power its TaiShan server – to help it gain a top spot as a cloud player, competing with the likes of Alibaba, Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft. 

“We hope to make our cloud service, together with our partners, one of the top five cloud services in the world,” William Xu, Huawei’s chief strategy marketing officer and director of the board, said in a CNBC article.

The Kunpeng 920 is based on the ARMv8 architecture license and integrates 64 cores at a frequency of 2.6GHz, with support for PCIe 4.0 and CCIX interfaces and 640 Gb/sec total bandwidth provision.

“Huawei has continuously innovated in the computing domain in order to create customer value. We believe that, with the advent of the intelligent society, the computing market will see continuous growth in the future. Currently, the diversity of applications and data is driving heterogeneous computing requirements. Huawei has long partnered with Intel to make great achievements. Together we have contributed to the development of the ICT industry. Huawei and Intel will continue our long-term strategic partnerships and continue to innovate together,”  Xu said. 

“At the same time, the ARM industry is seeing a new development opportunity. The Kunpeng 920 CPU and TaiShan servers newly released by Huawei are primarily used in big data, distributed storage, and ARM-native applications. We will work with global partners in the spirit of openness, collaboration, and shared success to drive the development of the ARM ecosystem and expand the computing space, and embrace a diversified computing era.” 

It will join the company’s other 7nm chipsets,  including the Kirin 980 found in the Chinese manufacturer’s smartphones and the Ascend 910. The latter chip is also designed to power data centre operations, with reports suggesting it could mean that Huawei is about to start producing servers powered entirely by its own processors.

In the past, Huawei has teamed up with Intel to provide its server chips, however, Xu said this latest partnership won’t affect that long-standing relationship.

“Huawei and Intel are long-term strategic partners, in the past, now and will be in the future. The relationship between Huawei and Intel, though we have differences in our CPU structures, our products complement each other. We will keep using Intel CPU in areas where they perform better, and use ARM-based CPU in areas like cloud and servers where they are better,” Xu told CNBC.

The Chinese company has found itself in a tricky spot recently; while it has experienced strong growth both inside and outside its native market, it has also faced a growing backlash. Western governments have voiced concerns over the potential for Huawei’s technology to be used by the Chinese government to spy on foreign countries. In particular, intelligence agencies in the US and UK have warned that the company’s tech could constitute a national security risk if incorporated into critical infrastructure.