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Huawei launches ‘industry-first’ AI data centre switch amid trade war

10 Jan 2019

Despite being embroiled in the midst of a trade war between China and the United States, Huawei is showing no signs of slowing down its innovation.

On Tuesday the company revealed a new chipset for data centres purported to be more powerful and more efficient than its peers, and now the Chinese tech giant has unveiled its new data centre switch ‘built for the AI era’, the CloudEngine 16800.

Huawei claims it to be an industry-first, consisting of an embedded AI chip, 48-port 400GE line card per slot, and the capability to evolve to the autonomous driving network. According to Huawei, this will enable customers to accelerate intelligent transformation.

"A fully connected, intelligent world is fast approaching,” says Huawei Network Product Line president Kevin Hu.

“Data centre become the core of the new infrastructures such as 5G and AI. Huawei will first introduce AI technology to data centre switches, leading data centre networks from the cloud era to the AI era."

To back up its new product, the company shared some statistics from its Global Industry Vision (GIV) 2025 report, which forecasts the AI adoption rate to increase from 16 percent in 2015 to 86 percent in 2025. Huawei believes AI’s potential to reshape business models, make decisions, and improve customer experiences will be a key driving force.

The problem that Huawei is looking to solve is the limitations of current computing power which is becoming a bottleneck of the AI commercial process. According to Hu, the current AI computing power of data centres is only capable of reaching up to 50 percent due to a packet loss rate of 1/1000.

To make matters worse, the industry expects the annual volume of data globally to increase from 10 zettabytes in 2018 to 180 zettabytes by 2025. Hu is adamant – existing 100GE data centre networks simply won’t be able to cope with the imminent flood of data, and this is why his company’s new chip is so important.

And so, the details. The CloudEngine 16800 itself consists of an orthogonal architecture that Huawei says overcomes multiple technical challenges such as high-speed signal transmission, heat dissipation, and power supply.

Its 48-port 400GE line card per slot density is the highest in the industry, in addition the industry’s largest 768-port 400GE switching capacity at five times the industry average. Furthermore, to meet green interests Huawei says the power consumption per bit is reduced by 50 percent.

The CloudEngine 16800 uses the ‘iLossless’ algorithm to implement auto-sensing and auto-optimisation of the traffic model, resulting in lower latency and higher throughput based on zero packet loss. This then lifts AI computing power from 50 percent to 100 percent and improves data storage input/output operations per second by 30 percent.

Its embedded AI chip enhances the intelligence level of devices deployed at the network edge, enabling the switch to make local inference and rapid decision-making in real-time.

According to Huawei, with CloudEngine 16800’s local intelligence and the centralised network analyser FabricInsight, the distributed AI O&M architecture is able to identify faults in seconds automatically locate faults in minutes.

"Huawei CloudEngine series data centre switches have been successfully launched into commercial use for more than 6000 customers, helping digital transformation of industry customers such as finance, internet, and carrier customers,” says Huawei Data Centre Network Domain general manager Leon Wang.

“Huawei launched the CloudEngine 16800 to help customers accelerate intelligent transformation, achieve pervasive use of AI, and jointly build a fully connected and intelligent world."

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