One of the first things that comes to mind when contemplating the concept of artificial intelligence is super smart computers that will eventually replace all jobs and run the world. Hey, when names like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are out there warning us about the potential dangers of AI, shouldn’t we be listening?
The end of the mankind aside, AI has some real-world benefits.
It’s those benefits that Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu pitched during his keynote at IFA 2017. Specifically, Yu introduced the idea of Mobile AI—putting the possibilities of artificial intelligence into consumers’ hands via their mobile devices—which Huawei has achieved with the launch of the Kirin 970. Yu called the development the world’s first smartphone AI computer platform with a dedicated Neural-network Processing Unit, or NPU.
The easiest way to understand NPU is to understand its performance potential. According to a chart shared by Yu during the keynote, NPU is roughly 25-times better, performance-wise, from a standard CPU, and more than six-times better than a GPU. On the efficiency side of things, a GPU is around 8 times more efficient than a CPU, while NPU will perform 50-times more efficiently. Big numbers that could mean an entirely new user-experience when this thing gets embedded into a smartphone.
“Huawei is committed to turning smart devices into intelligent devices by building end-to-end capabilities that support coordinated development of chips, devices, and the cloud,” Yu said during the keynote. “The ultimate goal is to provide a significantly better user experience. The Kirin 970 is the first in a series of new advances that will bring powerful AI features to our devices and take them beyond the competition.”
The result of years of development, Kirin 970 will work together with existing Cloud AI applications to improve performance in the areas of latency, stability, and privacy, Yu said. On-device AI will offer all kinds of benefits, including strong sensing capabilities, allowing devices to actually become more aware of users specific needs, providing a “truly personalized” experience.
Other advances of Mobile AI include other buzz-wordy things like “Real-Time Computer Vision,” “Low Power AR,” and “Precise Language Understanding.”
Numbers on a slide are one thing. Huawei said it will unveil their first smartphone with the Kirin 970 chip—the Mate 10 Series—during its October event in Munich. There, we’ll get our first look at how the new NPU system impacts the overall user experience.