Recently, there have been media reports about layoffs in the Cambricon Singgo team. The news states that “about half of the software department has been laid off, while only a few employees in the hardware department will handle post-layoff matters. Additionally, new projects have been suspended and may be abandoned in the future.”
In response to this news, the layoffs mainly target the Singgo teams in Nanjing and Shenzhen. The layoffs at Cambricon are primarily driven by financial considerations, aiming to quickly stabilize their finances. In terms of personnel, Sun Xiaoyun, the head of the Singgo team’s structure, has already resigned last year.
The Singgo team has undergone a large-scale downsizing. The focus of industry attention is how the development progress of Singgo’s intelligent driving chip is going.
In March 2022, Wang Ping, the CEO of Cambricon Singgo, announced that “In the next two years, there will be two heavyweight chips officially released. One is the SD5226 series product targeting L4, which supports on-vehicle training. The other is the SD5223 chip for the L2+ market.”
According to the plan, the SD5226 series chips targeting the L4 market will be the first to provide a single-chip SOC-based L4 autonomous driving solution. The computing power will be further increased to 400 TOPS, with a maximum CPU computing power exceeding 300KDMIPS, and it will adopt a 7nm process with an independent safety island design.
However, due to sanctions, the development progress of the Singgo L4 intelligent driving chip is far behind expectations. The future business focus will shift to L2+ chips.
At the end of 2022, it was learned from within the Singgo team that “Cambricon’s L4 chip is nearing completion and is expected to be released to the public in June 2023.” However, the interviewee added, “If the L4 chip does not meet market expectations, Hang Ge may also be finished.”
In June of this year, we once again consulted with internal R&D staff at Singgo regarding the progress of the L4 chip. The employee stated, “The 5223 chip targeting L2+ has already been released, but there is currently no release plan for the 5226 chip targeting L4.” This statement at that time also to some extent confirmed the rumors that the new project had been suspended.
The chip development did not meet expectations, and there were also obstacles in product market promotion.
An insider from the chip industry has revealed that the Singgo team is currently facing great challenges in their business. In order to secure a foothold, Singgo’s sales strategy for OEM customers is to “give away 40,000 chips for free”, highlighting the urgency of obtaining a foothold.
Throughout, obtaining the designation from host manufacturers has always been a top priority for chip companies. There have been rumors that in order to secure the desired chip designation, Horizon Robotics CEO Yu Kai personally mobilized all elite personnel within the company and formed a research and development team of over a hundred people to settle in Ideal, providing real-time technical assistance.
Not to mention that Horizon Robotics, which already has dozens of designated host factories and is another potential competitor in the high-performance chip market, has now obtained clients such as Dongfeng and FAW Hongqi and is about to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
In addition to the two major players mentioned above, more and more companies are entering the automotive chip market. This includes emerging star startups such as HOUMO AI, HUIXI, EVAS Intelligence, AXERA AI, and even Momenta, which is renowned for its intelligent driving algorithms, is forming a self-developed chip team to make a big impact.
The current situation is not optimistic, as most of the funds and talents in the automotive chip market have been absorbed by Horizon Robotics and Black Sesame. According to industry insiders, “Horizon Robotics and Black Sesame have taken away 70% of the funds in the automotive chip market, making it increasingly difficult for chip startups that haven’t emerged yet.
Team layoffs, L4 chip development falls short of expectations. Can Cambricon Singgo still sing all the way?