Sapeon was spun off from South Korea’s SK Telecom in 2022 and is elevating outdoors funding. The corporate is trying to tackle Nvidia within the space of manmade intelligence chips.
SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Photographs
BARCELONA, Spain — Sapeon, a South Korean synthetic intelligence chip startup headquartered in California, is elevating a funding spherical that places its valuation above $400 million, its CEO advised CNBC.
The startup is backed by large South Korean companies SK Telecom, memory-chip maker SK Hynix and SK Sq., an funding firm spun off of SK Telecom.
Sapeon designs synthetic intelligence semiconductors for knowledge facilities, for instance these run by cloud computing companies. These AI chips are required for AI functions that require enormous quantities of information processing.
At the moment, U.S. agency Nvidia dominates this market. However plenty of established gamers similar to AMD and startups like Sapeon, need to problem Nvidia.
“AI options will develop lots because of the evolution of AI companies like ChatGPT,” Soojung Ryu, CEO of Sapeon, advised CNBC in an interview on the Cell World Congress that aired Wednesday.
ChatGPT is the viral chatbot developed by OpenAI. It has brought about a stir within the tech world, with giants from Google to Chinese language agency Baidu scrambling to launch their very own rivals. Expertise executives say ChatGPT has put AI functions on the map.
Analysts at Bernstein count on ChatGPT to be a multi-billion greenback boon for chipmakers trying to gasoline these AI fashions.
“We want construct this sort of system (AI chips) to have a possibility for the enterprise,” Ryu mentioned.
Sapeon was created in 2016 inside SK Telecom, one in every of South Korea’s largest telecommunications companies. SK Telecom then spun out the agency final yr and raised outdoors funding.
Ryu mentioned the corporate is at the moment elevating cash at a valuation of $400 million.
South Korean semiconductor companies together with Samsung and SK Hynix have sometimes been robust in reminiscence chips that go into units like PCs. Sapeon is amongst one of many first companies out of South Korea to try to crack the AI chip market.
Ryu mentioned that Sapeon is concentrating on the U.S. market which might pit it in opposition to Nvidia. When requested if Sapeon can problem Nvidia, Ryu answered “sure.”
At the moment, Sapeon has one chip in the marketplace referred to as the X220. It’s constructed on so-called 28-nanometer expertise. The nanometer determine refers back to the dimension of every particular person transistor on a chip. The smaller the transistor, the extra of them will be packed onto a single semiconductor. Usually, a discount in nanometer dimension can yield extra highly effective and environment friendly chips.
Ryu mentioned the corporate will launch a 7-nanometer AI chip this yr and it is going to be manufactured by TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker. That may deliver it nearer to the present expertise in the marketplace.