Huawei fails to chip away at Nvidia’s dominance 

China struggles to close the gap with the United States in the race for AI supremacy

Huawei, ‘we have a problem.’ Last month, the Chinese high-tech giant claimed its new Ascend 910B artificial intelligence chip was “better” than Nvidia’s A100 semiconductor.

With up to 95% of the global AI chip market, the Silicon Valley company is, literally, a titan among titans. Still, Wang Tao, a senior executive at Huawei, made the statement at the Nanjing World Semiconductor Conference in June. 

“In some tests, Ascend chips can beat the A100 by 20%,” Wang, the chief operating officer of the company’s Ascend ecosystem, said as reported by the South China Morning Post.

But Chinese market intelligence group TrendForce revealed last week that Huawei’s partly state-run partner, the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, is suffering “significant” production problems.

“Hailed as a potential competitor [to] US [AI] models, only 20% of chips coming off the line [are] currently working,” according to today’s Foreign Policy’s China Brief newsletter

US sanctions have led to more inefficient [Chinese] production processes.

Foreign Policy’s China Brief

Chips with everything:

  • Mizuho Securities has estimated that Nvidia controls between 70% to 95% of the sector for AI semiconductors.
  • A “high-tech ban” on Beijing by Washington and its allies has left the world’s second-largest economy struggling for alternatives.
  • Restrictions on key technologies include advanced chips and the machines that make them.
  • In response, China has pumped billions of dollars into research and development.

Delve deeper: “US sanctions have led to more complicated and inefficient [Chinese] production processes, potentially preventing China from reaching its ambitious goals,” Foreign Policy’s China Brief stated.

Big picture: Huawei might be known as a global smartphone colossus, but its tentacles reach across all aspects of advanced technology.

China Factor comment: The future of manufacturing, science, and research has become one of the main battlegrounds in the intense rivalry between Washington and Beijing.