The recent craze over ChatGPT throws light on the underlying business opportunities of AI applications. AI applications driven by cloud services have attracted their fair share of attention, but Edge Computing AI applications are also on the rise. Edge AI helps reduce large amounts of data uploads to the cloud, which enables applications like photographic lenses and electronic devices to analyze data and respond instantly thanks to high-performance computing power. The technology also comes with its own advantages in cutting costs and saving power. In addition, Edge AI has crucial strengths in personal privacy and information security; it also creates many business opportunities in the embedded systems market. That is reason enough to be optimistic about the business opportunities in Edge AI development. AI tech startups are challenging market leaders through capital investment and continue to perform brilliantly in a series of AI chip product lines, from Edge Computing to cloud servers.
The DEEPX start-up team from South Korea has set their sights on the development of AI accelerator chips for Neural Processing Units (NPUs). DEEPX CEO Lokwon Kim has a PhD in electrical engineering from UCLA and more than ten years of experience in Silicon/AI Chip design at Broadcom and Apple. DEEPX has raised 50 million US dollars and established a chip design and development team 50-plus strong, and it has its sights set on creating next-gen NPU chips.
In early 2023, DEEPX launched the DEEPX Series of solutions, which includes four semiconductor solutions, namely DX-L1, DX-L2, DX-M1, and DX-H1, each optimized for a different core AI application. At the same time, they launched the DEEPX software development kit DXNN, enabling the four semiconductor solutions developed by DEEPX to be driven under a unified software framework. DXNN series products can be applied to various fields, from small-sized sensors to edge servers. They are in the running to become an important product package (All-in-4 Edge AI Total Solution) in the AI semiconductor market.
One of the key differentiators of DEEPX's AI chip product line lies in their technological prowess. The chips deliver high-performance AI capabilities while ensuring power efficiency, computational efficiency, AI accuracy, and support for the latest AI algorithms. This technological advantage has propelled DEEPX to the forefront of the AI semiconductor industry, surpassing global competitors' NPU (Neural Processing Unit) technology. Furthermore, DEEPX's AI chips offer superior cost competitiveness compared to GPUs and other market solutions, creating a significant edge in the NPU field.
DEEPX also recently launched three modular NPU products. The ultra-small camera module equipped with the DX-L1 chip is the first product in the world that runs the latest DNN algorithm on a PCB the size of just half a business card, all without a heat sink, thus performing AI computational processing that only GPUs could do. Currently, the company is actively working on a proof of concept with companies both in Korea and globally that operate smart CCTV and control systems. In addition, DEEPX has also developed the M.2 module and PCIe module-type DX-M1 chips used in inference servers. It is currently shipping to customers for testing. And it is also using promotional activities to draw more customer participation.
Since the beginning of this year, DEEPX has cooperated with Hyundai-Kia Motors, POSCO DX, and Jahwa Electronics to promote the commercial testing of AI solutions such as robots, smart cameras, and factory automation. DEEPX is also cooperating with CoAsia to enter East Asian markets like China and Taiwan. In September of this year, DEEPX will participate in the Consumer Electronics Unlimited (IFA 2023) expo to be held in Berlin, Germany, where it will advance its business exchanges with European companies working in the robotics, automotive, and telecommunications industries.
Taiwan Tech Arena helps connect to Taiwan's global electronics manufacturing ecosystem and supply chain
Kim says he believes that Taiwan is an important global manufacturing center for electronics. In the past, he had cooperated with companies in Silicon Valley to enhance DEEPX's name in the tech field, but for extending product reach and expanding business, he still needed to link up with Taiwan's manufacturing industry. With the assistance of Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA), DEEPX participated in the TTA Global Forum in InnoVEX 2023 held at Computex in 2023, where DEEPX was able to interact and exchange more frequently with Taiwanese companies. Its discussions with Taiwan OEM/ODM customers helped DEEPX develop AI applications for industrial computers and focus on the design of next-gen robots.
Since camera modules are widely used in smart cars and smart manufacturing, Kim pays special attention to the development potential in smart camera modules in Taiwan. Kim believes that co-designing AI-driven camera modules with Taiwanese OEMs/ODMs will help spur diverse development in AI applications. He expressed his gratitude to the TTA for its role in helping tech start-up teams make the crucial connections with Taiwan's electronics manufacturing ecosystem, and gave the TTA high marks. He said he believes that although fundraising is important, some of the most important benefits come from making connections between the tech innovation teams and the industrial chain and providing business opportunities to cooperate with major manufacturers. DEEPX is currently establishing a liaison office in Taiwan, with the assistance of the TTA, which will serve as the starting point for linking up with industry in Taiwan. Although the staff has just one person at the moment, the benefits of the office have already been demonstrated.
Looking to future development, DEEPX will initiate formal mass production of NPU chips as well as targeting AI applications in the automotive market. The European Union is now formulating passenger vehicle safety regulations, requiring vehicles to have functions for automatically detecting babies or pets in the car within 15 minutes to prevent the consequences of leaving them in cars. DEEPX believes that this will create more business opportunities for AI applications.
Moving forward with product planning, DEEPX will first obtain ISO26262 certification to use DEEPX NPU IP in the automotive field; it will then make automotive SoC chips that meet the safety and reliability requirements of the automotive market. Kim emphasized that their cooperation with Taiwan's electronics supply chain and major OEM/ODM manufacturers is a crucial step toward the future development of DEEPX. He hopes to keep seeking opportunities for cooperation with industry in Taiwan to help bring more AI applications to more users, and more benefits to society at large.
From the left, are the camera module with DX-L1, M.2 module with DX-M1 in the middle, and the PCIe module with DX-H1 on the right