Company under CIA investigation for possibly allowing China access to U.S.-designed supercomputer decides to drop Huawei support, focus on U.S. tech only

Wafer Scale Engine 2
(Image credit: Cerebras)

G42, a United Arab Emirates-based company specializing in cloud artificial intelligence (AI) services vows to cease using Huawei hardware, reports the Financial Times. The statement — with another one due in about a week — comes after it emerged that American secret services were investigating G42's ties with China-based Huawei.

G42 is a company that runs a fleet of Huawei's HiSilicon-based devices for its AI service provision. Meanwhile, G42 is preparing to use CS-2 hardware from Cerebras in a multi-billion deal that involves the creation of a network of AI-oriented supercomputers. The U.S. government has raised concerns over G42 and its ties with Huawei recently, precipitating two company statements to leading business media in the space of a week - asserting that it will not continue working with Huawei.

"For better or worse, as a commercial company, we are in a position where we have to make a choice," chief executive Peng Xiao told the Financial Times. "We cannot work with both sides. We cannot. […] The impression we are getting from [the] US government and US partners is, we need to be very cautious."

For now, G42 is poised to phase out the use of AI hardware from Huawei for running its AI workloads. The statement could mean that the company is not going to train any new AI models on its existing hardware from the Chinese company, though we must say that the CEO of G42 did not state this explicitly. Meanwhile, what he did say is that Huawei can hardly offer his company better hardware. This is expected, given the fact that G42 has inked a multi-billion deal with Cerebras.

"In order for us to further our relationship — which we cherish — with our U.S. partners, we simply cannot do much more with [previous] Chinese partners," Xiao added.

As G42 deploys its Cerebras-based machines, it could theoretically transfer its existing inference workloads to them. Yet, the technical and economic possibility of this is uncertain, to say the least. Furthermore, as the U.S. severely limits Chinese companies' access to AI hardware, they have no choice but to use domestically developed and produced processors or opt for cloud AI services, such as those from G42.

"It is unsurprising that G42, as an AI-focused start-up, engages with China, given China's extensive role in the global AI value chain, from hardware, talent, to end market," said Nikki Sun, an academy associate in the digital society initiative at the Chatham House think-tank. "Severing these connections entirely seems very unlikely."

G42 is building a network of AI-oriented supercomputers based on Cerebras's WSE-2, the largest 'wafer-size' chip with 2.6 trillion transistors and 850,000 AI cores. The device powers the CS-2 systems in G42's Condor Galaxy supercomputers, including the CG-1 in California. This supercomputer offers up to four ExaFLOPS for large language models with 600 billion to 100 trillion parameters. In the future, G42 and Cerebras will deploy six such supercomputers globally, raising CIA concerns due to their potential use by Chinese entities for AI training. This development places G42 amid U.S.-China tensions, yet it aligns with the UAE's economic diversification.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • oofdragon
    Investigation or threatening?
  • JeffreyP55
    oofdragon said:
    Investigation or threatening?
    I hope both. Chinese are not friends with the United States.