Big picture: With so much news about Arm-based chip and processor shortages slowly eating up the digital world, it’s easy to overlook that China’s tech giants are making headway in building custom chips for data centers. Companies like Tencent and Alibaba are gradually replacing foreign chips with domestic solutions they claim are faster and more efficient, and this process is expected to accelerate in the coming years.
Much attention was paid to the current lack of chipsNvidia takeover of Arm for $ 54 billion and takeover of Apple transition on custom Arm silicon that is both powerful and more energy efficient than competing x86 solutions. Meanwhile, Chinese tech giants like Tencent and Alibaba are working on their own Arm-based silicon, and almost no one has noticed their efforts.
Tencent today launched three chips of his own design, which he said will help boost China’s semiconductor efforts. At the same time, the move signals the company’s expansion beyond things like video games, social media (WeChat) and mobile payment services.
One of the chips, dubbed Zixiao, is an accelerator for machine learning tasks such as image, video and natural language processing. The second is a video transcoding chip called Canghai, and the last is a network interface controller chip called Xuanling.
Dawson Tong Taosang, President of Tencent’s Cloud and Intelligent Industries Group, said “chips are a key component of the hardware and basic infrastructure of the industrial Internet.” Tencent has a long-term vision of what it wants to achieve with custom silicon, but cannot say which factory its chips were made in or what it plans to develop further.
The news came a few weeks after its local competitor, Alibaba, launched a special Arm-based processor called the Yitian 710. The new processor will be used in the company’s Panjiu servers and will not be sold commercially. Since the new chip is based on a 5-nanometer process technology, there are only two assumptions about which factory they are manufactured in: Samsung or TSMC.
Tencent and Alibaba are the largest players in China’s cloud infrastructure services market, with a combined market share of 52.6% at the time of writing. Their efforts are driven by China’s plan to achieve technological self-sufficiency by 2025 and gradually replace foreign technologies used in its public infrastructure with its own solutions.