Baidu’s AI chip unit Kunlun raises $2bn

Baidu’s AI chip unit Kunlun raises $2bn


Baidu Inc said its artificial intelligence chip unit Kunlun raised around $2 billion, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter, Reuters reported.

The company declined to comment further but confirmed that a round of financing was completed, with the promise of the company releasing more information soon.

The unnamed source also revealed that Baidu is considering commercialising its AI chip design capabilities, with the aim of making the Kunlun unit a standalone company, which could help the company commercialise its operations.

This comes as analysts report that with the accelerating adoption of 5G, IoT, and AI (autonomous driving, smart speakers, robots, AR/VR, etc.), demand for AI chips is set to surge in the coming years.

At the 2020 Annual ABC Summit, Baidu announced its plan to begin mass production of Kunlun II AI chip for use in search, industrial AI and smart transportation. Kunlun chips are used mostly by Baidu on smart electric vehicles and cloud computing.

Baidu KUNLUN chip is built on the company’s advanced XPU, a home-grown neural processor architecture for cloud, edge, and AI, as well as Samsung’s 14-nanometer (nm) process technology with its I-Cube™ (Interposer-Cube) package solution.

The company said in 2018 that Kunlun is about 30 times faster than the first FPGA chip from Baidu and is able to achieve 260 tera-operations per second (TOPS) and 512 GB/second memory bandwidth.

Elsewhere, the Chinese search giant received qualifications for 35 vehicles to demonstrate commercialised autonomous driving operations, and qualifications for 10 vehicles to conduct driverless testing, by Cangzhou traffic authorities.

These qualifications will allow Baidu to be the first company in China to experiment with various monetisation mechanisms for autonomous driving services, marking a landmark step on Baidu Apollo's road to commercialisation.

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