UPDATED. 2024-07-17 07:31 (수)
AI startup DeepX to use TSMC as foundry for new NPU SoC
AI startup DeepX to use TSMC as foundry for new NPU SoC
  • JY Han
  • 승인 2024.06.11 09:02
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Company signs deal with Asicland to use Taiwanese firm’s 12nm node
Image: DeepX
Image: DeepX

TSMC’s design house partner Asicland has won AI chip startup DeepX as its customer, TheElec has learned.

DeepX had previously used Samsung Foundry’s design house Gaonchips as its production partner.

But the startup recently signed a deal with Asicland to use TSMC’s 12-nanometer (nm) node to manufacture its SoC that has a neural processing unit (NPU), sources said.

The deal was worth approximately 10 billion won. Under the deal, DeepX will design the NPU and send it to Asicland, which will add interface IP and other requirements to make it a SoC suitable to be manufactured using TSMC’s node. DeepX is aiming to see an engineering sample made at TSMC’s factory next year.

DeepX’s new NPU SoC, which will be made using TSMC’s 12nm node, is aimed at robots and drones and is specialized for vision processing. 

Meanwhile, DeepX plans to maintain its relationship with Samsung, despite its latest decision to use TSMC, the sources said.

DeepX currently has the M1 chip, specialized for vision, AI accelerator H1 for data centers, and V series of NPU SoCs aimed at IP cameras and drones, as part of its portfolio. M1 and H1 is being manufactured through Samsung Foundry’s 5nm node and V series through their 28nm.

These products are expected to go through single-run productions __ where small volumes of these products are made before mass production.

DeepX has already sent engineering samples of these chips made using Samsung Foundry to over a hundred customers, the sources also said.

Following its deal to use TSMC, attention is now focused on which foundry DeepX will use in advanced 3nm node, as the startup is expected to develop more advanced NPU SoCs, such as edge AI chips designed to process large language models (LLM) such as ChatGPT

This reflects the rising demand for NPU for edge AI processing, where AI processing workload is done at the end-point, which is on the rise in devices such as robots and kiosks. Using edge AI instead of connecting these devices to the cloud can save the vendor cost.

The startup recently received funding from private equity Skylake Equity Partners, which is being led by ex-Samsung president and former Minister of Information and Communication Chin Dae-je. Skylake is its second-largest shareholder. BNW Investment, which has ex-Samsung Semiconductor president Kim Jae-wook as its CEO, also invested in the private equity.

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