Chinese domestic media outlet 36Kr reported on Tuesday that Beijing-based artificial intelligence (AI) computer chip startup Pingxin Technology has completed a pre-A round of financing worth nearly $10 million, amid a global push to enhance chip technology and an ongoing semiconductor shortage.
The fresh funds are expected to support the firm’s efforts to develop efficient and versatile AI-powered computer chips that can be implemented in a wide range of smart products. According to 36Kr, the lead investors in the deal are Zhen Fund and Puhua Capital, with Sequoia Capital also having previously provided key funding for the startup.
Founded just six months ago, Pingxin Technology says it aims to transform and accelerate the advancement of AI computing by fully integrating data storage and computing into a combined chip architecture, cutting costs and improving efficiency. The potential application of such AI chips is highly varied, as the technology will likely play a central role in actualizing the Internet of Things (IoT).
Based in one of China’s leading tech hubs, the Haidian District of Beijing, the company claims that 90% of its core team has previously worked at major international computer chip manufacturers – experience that will be vital as the young firm attempts to enter a competitive market.
The investment in Pingxin comes during a persistent global shortage of semiconductors. The deficiency was initiated by supply complications related to the COVID-19 outbreak early last year, then prolonged by soaring consumer demand for cars, computers and other products as economic conditions around the world began to recover.
Even before the shortage, however, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology sought to promote domestic production of computer chips in order to reduce the country’s dependence on imports of the critical electronic building block.
Recent years have seen major advancements in the development of AI-driven computer chips, which are capable of highly efficient machine learning computation and require significantly less energy to operate than previous generations.
Leading Chinese technology firms including Huawei and ByteDance have sought to independently design and manufacture their own semiconductor products of late. Furthermore, domestic tech giant Baidu announced at its annual conference last week that it has initiated mass production of its 7nm Kunlun II, a leading AI-powered chip reportedly two to three times more powerful than past versions of the product.