Canadian AI startup Tenstorrent teaming up with Samsung, Hyundai, and LG

Jessica Tsai, Taipei; Jack Wu, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Amidst the ongoing AI boom, Canadian AI semiconductor startup Tenstorrent has recently formed alliances with South Korean conglomerates such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, and LG Electronics.

Since it's rare for overseas startups to establish cross-sector cooperations with South Korean conglomerates, the background and future developments of Tenstorrent have garnered major attention.

According to reports from Aju Business Daily and Korea Economic Daily (KED), Hyundai Mobis elected Tenstorrent COO Keith Witek as a board member and non-standing director on March 20, 2024.

This marks the first time Hyundai Mobis has elected someone from the AI semiconductor industry as a non-standing director. Some viewpoints believe that Hyundai Mobis hopes to utilize Keith Witek's previous experiences in the semiconductor and automotive industries to secure semiconductor technology

Tenstorrent's influence extends beyond this, as it has a close collaboration with Samsung. Since July 2023, Samsung and Tenstorrent have embarked on R&D projects, and recently, they have begun production of AI microchips (chiplets) at Samsung's foundry in Taylor, Texas, using Samsung's 4nm 4th generation process (SF4X).

Additionally, LG Electronics also plans to partner with Tenstorrent to integrate RISC-V-based AI chips into smart TVs and other products, with the potential for expansion into other automotive products in the future.

Tenstorrent CEO Jim Keller recently visited South Korea. Apart from potential meetings with business partners such as Samsung Semiconductor, Tenstorrent is also expected to have its first contact with the SK Group, according to a report from Yonhap News Agency (YNA). Tenstorrent will be establishing a subsidiary in South Korea as well.

Tenstorrent CEO Jim Keller is a well-known figure in the industry, having led the design and R&D of several generations of processors at companies such as AMD, Apple, Intel, and Tesla. Unlike Nvidia's focus on GPUs, Keller aims to combine CPU and AI accelerator technologies to develop AI semiconductors.

He is especially interested in RISC-V-based semiconductor technology. RISC-V offers advantages such as open-source, simplicity, and modularity, eliminating the need for complex licensing processes and only requiring a design to use, which will help save costs.

Industry sources pointed out that while Nvidia's GPUs are more akin to general-purpose chips suitable for many corporations, there will be a growing demand for chips that can be customized and cost-effective in the future. They hope that Tenstorrent can broaden the market and create a new ecosystem.