On July 19, a spokesperson for ByteDance confirmed to CNBC that the company is exploring chip designs for its own use in specialized areas, as it could not find a supplier capable of meeting its requirements.
Chinastarmarket.cn reported on July 13 that ByteDance was recruiting many chip-related engineers, such as for SoC front-end design, model performance analysis and verification, underlying software and driver development, low-power design and chip security. The source said the recruitment drive indicates that ByteDance is likely preparing for the independent development of computer chips.
The spokesperson also said that these chips would be customized to handle the related workloads of ByteDance in many businesses, including its video platform, information and entertainment applications. ByteDance will reportedly not sell its chips to others.
At present, the ByteDance chip team is divided into three categories: server chips, AI chips and video cloud chips. Specifically, the head of the server chips team is a senior person from Qualcomm in North America. ByteDance has recruited many people from Huawei’s HiSilicon and Arm.
In the past few years, many companies, including search giant Baidu and e-commerce giant Alibaba, have released their own chips, although these companies do not have traditional semiconductor backgrounds.
For these companies, customized chips are special components created to meet their own business needs, so they don’t have to buy off-the-shelf chips from other suppliers. Still, they rely on foundries such as TSMC to produce chips.