Last week it became known that US authorities blocked the shipment to China of NVIDIA H800 and A800 accelerators that that company had introduced to the Chinese market over the past 12 months to meet the requirements of previous restrictions. Such harassment of NVIDIA will open new import substitution opportunities for Huawei, according to experts.
At least the agency refers to such comments from the specialists at Guotai Junan Securities Reuters. The capacity of the domestic Chinese market for computing accelerators is estimated at $7 billion, and the US authorities’ actions are literally freeing up a place for Huawei Technologies and other Chinese developers of specialized hardware. NVIDIA previously controlled more than 90% of China’s accelerator market, but will be forced to give up some positions amid increasing sanctions.
In addition to Huawei with its family of Ascend processors, the Chinese company iFlyTek can also offer solutions for creating artificial intelligence systems based on them, although all of them are still inferior in performance to advanced NVIDIA components. However, iFlyTek representatives do not hesitate to say that the performance of the Ascend 910B accelerators is comparable to the NVIDIA A100, the supply of which to China will be limited due to new US export control regulations.
A serious problem in terms of migrating to alternative platforms for Chinese developers could be the already created dependence on the NVIDIA infrastructure and the CUDA development environment. Huawei is developing its own alternative called CANN, but its capabilities are still very limited and a quick switch from NVIDIA solutions to this platform is not that easy either. To create a competitive ecosystem, Huawei and other Chinese companies will need five to 10 years, experts say. In July, Huawei officials said that of the more than 130 major voice models being built in China, about 30 use the brand’s accelerators. According to experts at 86Research, the task of import substitution in the field of artificial intelligence systems in China does not seem to be overwhelming if local market participants have enough time and a large user base. In this context, new US sanctions should serve as an additional incentive for the development of the Chinese economy.