Caixin
Nov 04, 2021 05:30 AM
TECH

Tencent Unveils Three Computer Chips of Its Own Design

What’s new: Tencent Holdings Ltd. unveiled three computer chips of its own design Wednesday, joining a rush by Chinese tech companies to develop in-house integrated circuits in pursuit of a competitive edge amid a global chip shortage.

The Shenzhen-based company’s three new chips are the artificial intelligence chip Zixiao, which is focused on processing images, video and natural language; a video transcoding device Canghai; and network interface controller Xuanling, Tencent vice president Qiu Yuepeng said at the company’s Digital Ecosystem Summit in Wuhan.

Tencent didn’t display the three chips at the summit or disclose what techniques are used to make them.

The company set up its Penglai Lab in 2020 to design and test chips. Tencent will actively explore development and plans to investment in the field long-term, Qiu said.

In addition, Tencent is actively investing in domestic chip companies. Earlier this year, it participated in a 1.8 billion yuan ($279 million) Series C round of funding at Enflame Technology, which develops cloud-based deep learning chips for artificial intelligence (AI) training platforms and is working with Tencent on a variety of AI applications.

The background: Tencent’s chip development is still in the early stages compared with those of major rivals. Alibaba released its self-developed AI inference chip Hanguang 800 in 2018 and has used it across Alibaba’s e-commerce sites to handle functions that require heavy computing power. In 2019, Alibaba’s chipmaking subsidiary Pingtouge launched the processor chip XuanTie 910, which can be used in applications including 5G telecommunications, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving.

Chinese smartphone makers Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo have also started making in-house chips to save costs and differentiate their products in competition. In-house chips can be 50% cheaper than those supplied by Intel and Qualcomm.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full story in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (hello@caixin.com)

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