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

DEEPX is a South Korean on-device AI chip (NPU, or neural processing unit) startup that makes {hardware} and software program for varied AI functions 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 complete 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 huge 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 measurement 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 applied, bypassing servers or the cloud,” Kim advised TechCrunch. “The [on-device AI market] is increasing on account of laptop imaginative and prescient capabilities like facial and voice recognition, good mobility, robotics, the web of issues and bodily safety techniques.” 

Kim stated that if its mass manufacturing begins this 12 months, potential clients equivalent to end-product producers will have the ability to commercialize their merchandise with DEEPX’s AI chips in 2025. 

DEEPX, which has round 65 workers, just 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;, 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 embrace price effectivity, power consumption effectivity and All-in-4 AI Total Solution, a complete answer for varied AI functions. Its All-in-4 AI options embrace: DX-V1 and DX-V3, designed for imaginative and prescient techniques in house home equipment, surveillance digital camera techniques, robotic imaginative and prescient and drones; in addition to DX-M1 and DX-H1, that are designed for AI computing packing 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 options are essentially the most cost-effective for giant language mannequin companies like ChatGPT; the overall energy consumed by GPUs working has reached ranges exceed {the electrical} power of a whole nation,” Kim stated. “This collaborative operation expertise between server-scale AI and on-device massive AI fashions are anticipated to cut back power consumption and prices so much in comparison with relying solely on knowledge facilities.” 

The startup doesn’t have clients but however is collaborating with greater than 100 potential shoppers and strategic companions, equivalent 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 personal fairness agency, led the newest funding, with participation from BNW Investments, a Korean personal 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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