Tencent Ventures Into Chip R&D and Design, a New Focus of Chinese Tech Giants

Tencent has over the past month posted several computer chip R&D positions to its official recruitment website, including chip architect, chip verification engineer, chip design engineer and others.

For example, the chip architect is responsible for the design of AI and processor chips, competitive analysis and specification definition, as well as the overall design of large chips and the control and design of key modules. Tencent is seeking experts familiar with AI chips and general processor architecture and circuit design – preferably frontline technical experts from design companies who have project experience in the architecture design of large chips and the control and design of key modules.

Tencent is one of the largest internet companies in China. It has previously invested in the chip industry, but in March this year, the firm established the Shenzhen Baoan Bay Tencent Cloud Computing Company, covering integrated circuit design and R&D. The move has raised speculation that Tencent is involved in the manufacturing of chips.

Tencent used to invest in the chip industry, such as in Enflame Technology, an AI chip company based in Shanghai. Enflame Technology focuses on general AI training and reasoning products. At the 2021 World Artificial Intelligence Conference, Enflame Technology released its second-generation AI training product: the “Suisi 2.0” chip.

Tencent responded to reporters from domestic media outlet The Paper about the leaks, saying that there are attempts to develop chips in specific areas based on specific business needs, such as AI acceleration, video codecs, and non-general chips.

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Chips now represent a new market for Chinese tech giants to compete for. Analysts say the competition is growing more intense these days because of a global chip shortage and US restrictions.

In China, Alibaba has developed and officially released the T-Head, XuanTie and other chips. Baidu has long been working on its own chip, especially for use in the AI industry, setting up Baidu KunLun earlier this year for the design and development of AI chips, with financing valued at 13 billion yuan ($2.01 billion).

In the global market, internet giants including Google, Amazon and Facebook are already developing their own chips.