Kneron Raises $49M to Rival Nvidia in AI Chip Market, Partners with Foxconn to Develop AI Chips for Cars

Kneron Raises $49M to Rival Nvidia in AI Chip Market, Partners with Foxconn to Develop AI Chips for Cars

Kneron, a cutting-edge semiconductor startup based in the United States, made headlines on Tuesday with the announcement of a significant funding boost. This funding injection, totaling $49 million, brings Kneron’s total funding for this round to an impressive $97 million. Notably, heavyweights in the tech and manufacturing industries, such as Foxconn, renowned for assembling Apple’s iconic iPhones, and Alltek, a leader in communications technology, participated as key investors in this funding round.

Kneron‘s ambitious goal is to establish a strong presence in the competitive world of artificial intelligence, setting its sights on becoming a formidable contender to Nvidia, a major player in the AI chip market. The timing of this endeavor aligns with the burgeoning interest from investors in the AI field, underscored by Nvidia’s remarkable 180% surge in stock value this year and the recent high-profile initial public offering of semiconductor designer Arm in the United States.

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In contrast to Nvidia, which specializes in graphics processing units (GPUs) used in servers and data centers for high-intensity AI computations, Kneron is revolutionizing AI by designing chips tailored for edge devices. These devices, including consumer electronics and automobiles, enable AI processing directly on the device itself, rather than relying on cloud-based AI services. Advocates argue that this approach enhances security and speed, as AI applications don’t rely on cloud connections.

Kneron‘s chipsets, referred to as neural processing units (NPUs), are making waves in the industry. Their latest offering, the KL730, is specifically designed for use in autonomous driving applications, showcasing the company’s commitment to advancing AI in the automotive sector. Albert Liu, Kneron’s CEO, pointed out that GPUs can be costly to operate, potentially driving demand for more cost-effective NPUs.

“With this additional funding, Kneron has a laser focus on expanding its efforts to bring AI into the realm of autonomous driving,” stated Kneron in a press release

Foxconn’s semiconductor push

In the fiercely competitive landscape of AI semiconductors, Kneron faces formidable rivals, including industry giants like Qualcomm and MediaTek, who are also striving to enable on-device AI with their chip technologies. Additionally, various startups are actively developing AI-focused semiconductor solutions, intensifying the competition.

One standout supporter of Kneron is Foxconn, a company renowned for its manufacturing expertise and its endeavors to diversify beyond electronics assembly, venturing into electric cars and semiconductor production. Foxconn’s investment in Kneron signifies a strategic partnership aimed at accelerating the deployment of advanced AI, particularly in the automotive sector. Together, they are developing an ultra-lightweight AI chip capable of operating generative pre-trained (GPT) models from the cloud, which serve as the foundation for AI applications like ChatGPT.

It’s worth noting that Foxconn’s semiconductor journey has had its share of challenges. Last year, the company entered into a joint venture with Indian conglomerate Vedanta to establish a semiconductor and display production plant in India, a project valued at $19.5 billion. However, Foxconn later withdrew from this venture earlier this year, highlighting the complexities of breaking into the microchip market.

Manufacturing diversifcation

Kneron’s chips are currently manufactured by TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer. However, given the ongoing geopolitical tensions between the United States and China, which have implications for TSMC’s Taiwan-based operations, Kneron is taking proactive measures. Starting next year, the company plans to establish a more distributed production footprint in the United States and Europe, aiming to reduce potential supply chain risks.

In summary, Kneron’s latest funding round, supported by industry heavyweights like Foxconn, reflects the growing interest in AI technology and its applications. By focusing on on-device AI with its NPUs, Kneron aims to provide cost-effective and efficient solutions, particularly in the field of autonomous driving, while strategically expanding its manufacturing capabilities to mitigate supply chain risks. This approach positions Kneron as a significant player in the competitive landscape of AI semiconductors, setting the stage for exciting advancements in the AI industry.

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Ingrid Mueller

Ingrid Mueller, a literary expert with a Ph.D. in Literature from Yale University, brings a touch of artistry to her writing. Her critical analyses and cultural insights provide a fresh perspective on trending news. Ingrid's articles are a treat for those seeking a deeper understanding of the world around them. Explore the trends through her unique lens.

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