Kunlun, Baidu’s AI chip division, has completed a new round of financing, valued at US$2 billion according to Reuters. A source said that the fundraising was conducted while Baidu focused on advancing the design and manufacturing of artificial intelligence chips. It was led by the Chinese private equity investment company CITIC Private Equity Management Company (CPE). Other investors included IDG Capital, Lenovo Capital and Oriza Hua, an industrial fund.
Baidu said in response to Sohu Technology that Baidu’s Kunlun chip business has recently completed independent financing, and more relevant information will be announced in the future.
The news of Baidu’s independent financing of AI chips has been reported before. In February of this year, according to the US Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) report, Baidu is raising funds to establish an independent AI chip company, venture capital companies Jiyuan Capital (GGV) and IDG Capital have participated in the negotiations.
According to the report, Baidu’s chip company will be a subsidiary, and Baidu may be a major shareholder. This move reflects that Baidu is promoting its efforts in the chip field, and it also marks its further efforts to diversify its business beyond the advertising business. Baidu responded at the time: We have nothing to comment on market rumours.
Baidu has been studying the chip field for many years, and the layout includes the Kunlun series for general-purpose AI processors and the Honghu chip for voice interaction. In 2018, Baidu officially released the Kunlun AI chip. In 2019, it was successfully taped out. It adopted Samsung’s 14nm process technology. Public information stated that it had shipped more than 20,000 pieces. It was used in “Artificial Intelligence+” such as Baidu search engine and Baidu Smart Cloud Ecological Partners Scenes. At last year’s Baidu World 2020 conference, Ouyang Jian, general manager of Baidu’s smart chip, pre-released Kunlun 2 with 7nm advanced technology, which is expected to be mass-produced this year.
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