Chinese startup Cambricon gets new funds to advance 7nm chips for ChatGPT-like applications

Staff reporter, Shanghai; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0


China-based AI chip startup Cambricon Technologies, already listed on the Sci-Tech Innovation Board of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, recently has been approved to issue CNY1.672 billion (US$244.087 million) in A-shares to specific target investors, allowing the company to develop related chip solutions associated with the fast rising AIGC (AI generated content) concept and related applications like ChatGPT, according to market sources.

After deducting issuance costs, Cambricon is set to use the net proceeds to support its advanced process chip platform projects, develop general-purpose smart processors for various newly emerging applications like AIGC, and replenish the company's liquidity, the sources said.

So far, Cambricon has established a 7nm process chip design platform and also materialized advanced multi-chiplet packaging. It has also independently designed the MLU-link multi-chiplet interconnection technology.

The company has designed a variety of AI chips using process nodes of 7-28nm, all having reached a notable sales scale, especially those for smart edge computing applications. Its MUL 220 deep learning SoC, an AI acceleration product dedicated to edge computing application scenario, has been adopted by multiple corporate clients, with sales already amounting to over one million units since the product was launched in November 2019.

Cambricon's revenues for 2022 were estimated to grow slightly on year to the range of CNY725-750 million, but its losses for the year were expected to reach CNY1.035-1.265 billion, widening 25.46-53.34% on year, according to its latest financial statement.

The company also estimated its asset impairment loss at CNY108-132 million by the end of 2022, shooting up 340.48-438.38% on year, due partly to its inventory of smart edge computing chips rising on lower-than-expected sales and partly to decreased sales of cloud computing chips that are the end of their life cycle.

Meanwhile, industrial observers said that constant breakthroughs in AI technology are driving the global AI industry into a rapid development stage, and the latest emergence of ChatGPT has shown the new potential of AI applications, with the prospect that the AIGC market will see an explosive growth soon.

In response, many Chinese enterprises are expanding their investments in the AIGC field, including Baidu, Tencent YouTu, Alibaba, KuaiShou Technology, ByteDance, NetEase, SenseTime, and iFLYTEK, among others.

In addition to Cambricon, Chinese firms devoted to AI computing power development include Montage Technology, ZTE, Eoptolink Technology, TFC Optical Communication, Bsosight Software and Zhongji Innolight.

In terms of related software development, iFLYTEK, TRS Information Technology, Speech Ocean, CloudWalk, and SenseTime are actively engaged in developing natural language processing technologies, while Baidu, BlueFocus, Visual China and Kunlun are dedicated to AIGC algorithms or related databases.

AI is expected to bring tremendous growth opportunities for some of China's key industries by 2030, particularly including smart vehicles, transportation, logistics, manufacturing, healthcare, life sciences, and enterprise software, industry observers said.