ByteDance to Develop Chips for Its Own Video Recommendation Services

On July 20, Yang Zhenyuan, Vice President at ByteDance, responded in an interview with domestic media regarding recent reports that ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is developing its own chip products.

Yang said that the company has no general-purpose chip plan and is not involved in businesses such as the manufacturing of CPUs and GPUs. In addition to mainly purchasing X86 chips, ByteDance is also exploring the use of RISC architecture chips in the cloud computing field with its chip suppliers.

ByteDance’s independent chip development mainly focuses on its own video recommendation businesses. A ByteDance spokesman said that these include video platforms, information and entertainment applications. The R&D team will customize hardware optimization for special use within ByteDance’s own large-scale video recommendation service, such as video coding and decoding and cloud inference acceleration, in order to improve performance and reduce the company’s overall costs.

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At present, there are 31 semiconductor design-related positions within ByteDance which seems to form a team specializing in chip design. The list of related positions shown on ByteDance’s official website covers the entire chip design and production cycle.

However, the company also drew attention to the fact that the formation of its chip manufacturing team is still in its initial stages, adding that the company’s self-developed chips won’t be for sale to others, but will only be used in house.

In the field of chips, ByteDance has already made investment moves. In 2021, it invested in AI chip design companies including Stream Computing, Shanghai Yunmai Xinlian Technology Company, and Rivai, and invested in GPU chip design company Moore Threads through one of its wholly-owned subsidiary companies.

Driven by domestic policy support, industry investment and market demand, many Chinese Internet technology giants are beginning to move into chip development and production, such as Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and OPPO. By doing so, these companies can reduce their dependence on third-party suppliers while reducing their own costs spent on chips over the long run.