AI chip startup DEEPX secures $80M Series C at a $529M valuation 

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DEEPX is a South Korean on-device AI chip (NPU, or neural processing unit) startup that makes {hardware} and software program for numerous AI purposes in digital units. The firm introduced this week that it has raised $80 million (KRW 108.5 billion) in a Series C spherical at a valuation of $529 million (KRW 723 billion), which has surged greater than eight occasions from its Series B funding, about $15 million, in 2021. 

The Series C funding, which brings its whole increase to round $95 million, will go towards mass manufacturing of the startup’s inaugural merchandise — DX-V1, DX-V3, DX-M1 and DX-H1 — in late 2024 for international distribution. The startup can even use the brand new capital to expedite creating and launching its subsequent era of enormous language mannequin (LLM) on-device options. 

DEEPX was based in 2018 by CEO Lokwon Kim, who beforehand labored at Apple, Cisco Systems, the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center and Broadcom. 

The market dimension of world edge AI, additionally known as on-device AI, is projected to achieve $107.47 billion by 2029, up from $11.98 billion in 2021, in accordance to a latest report. “The on-device AI market, excluding edge servers, requires AI capabilities to be implemented, bypassing servers or the cloud,” Kim informed TechCrunch. “The [on-device AI market] is expanding due to computer vision capabilities like facial and voice recognition, smart mobility, robotics, the internet of things and physical security systems.” 

Kim stated that if its mass manufacturing begins this yr, potential prospects akin to end-product producers will be capable to commercialize their merchandise with DEEPX’s AI chips in 2025. 

DEEPX, which has round 65 staff, isn’t the one firm that has developed AI chip options. The Korean outfit competes with Hailo, which landed a $120 million funding spherical final month; SiMa.ai, which closed on $70 million, additionally in April; and Axelera, a Belgium-based AI chip startup that secured $27 million in 2022. 

Kim stated that his firm’s differentiators embody value effectivity, power consumption effectivity and All-in-4 AI Total Solution, a complete resolution for numerous AI purposes. Its All-in-4 AI options embody: DX-V1 and DX-V3, designed for imaginative and prescient programs in dwelling home equipment, surveillance digital camera programs, robotic imaginative and prescient and drones; in addition to DX-M1 and DX-H1, that are designed for AI computing containers, AI servers, good factories and AI booster chips. DEEPX now has greater than 259 patents pending within the U.S., China and South Korea, Kim stated. 

“Nvidia’s GPGPU-based solutions are the most cost-effective for large language model services like ChatGPT; the total power consumed by GPUs operating has reached levels exceed the electrical energy of an entire country,” Kim stated. “This collaborative operation technology between server-scale AI and on-device large AI models are expected to reduce energy consumption and costs a lot compared to relying solely on data centers.” 

The startup doesn’t have prospects but however is collaborating with greater than 100 potential shoppers and strategic companions, akin to Hyundai Kia Motors Robotics Lab and Korean IT firm POSCO DX, to check DEEPX’s AI chip capabilities. 

SkyLake Equity Partners, a South Korea-based technology-focused non-public fairness agency, led the most recent funding, with participation from BNW Investments, a Korean non-public fairness agency based by the previous president of Samsung LED and Samsung Electronics’ reminiscence chip unit. AJU IB and former backer Timefolio Asset Management additionally participated on this spherical. 

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