A Chinese start-up is developing artificial intelligence chips. As China’s leading tech businesses continue to make more investments into semiconductors, Axera has secured 800 million yuan ($126 million) from investors including meal delivery giant Meituan.
Qiming Venture Partners was one of the other investors in the fundraising round. The current round of funding comes after Axera raised funds in August, demonstrating investor interest in China’s semiconductor start-ups.
Beijing has prioritized increasing semiconductor self-sufficiency as well as research and development, despite the country’s industry still relying largely on foreign technology. Governments regard chips, which are found in everything from smartphones to automobiles, as strategically crucial.
However, there is currently a global scarcity of semiconductors, which is causing several consumer electronics devices, such as game consoles, to be unavailable.
The Chinese government’s emphasis on semiconductors has led the country’s IT behemoths to invest heavily in the field.
Tencent invested in Shanghai-based Enflame Technology last year. Tencent also released three chips of its own.
Baidu has introduced the second generation of its AI semiconductor, following the establishment of an independent AI chip business last year.
Alibaba, the e-commerce behemoth, has unveiled its own piece of silicon that would be used in data center servers.
Meituan, the Chinese food delivery behemoth, is the second big technology business to partner with Axera to invest in a chip company.
Axera’s AI chips are mostly used in the field of computer vision. This has to do with computers’ ability to analyze and interpret vast amounts of data, and it might be applied in fields like facial recognition. This, however, necessitates a significant amount of computing power, which might be supplemented by specialist computer vision chips.
Since its inception in May of this year, the startup has released two chips. Axera claims that its chips can be utilized in “smart city” and “smart home” applications. According to Axera, the new funds will be used to hire more employees and grow the company’s operations.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)