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Tencent recently unveiled three chips, including the Zixiao AI chip, Canghai video transcoder, and Xuanling network interface controller.
Tencent Holdings Limited (HKG: 0700) launched three new chips it developed on Wednesday, offering a rare glimpse into its Research and Development initiatives. This development comes amid China’s efforts to strengthen its domestic chip industry – a key point of tension between Beijing and Washington. As a result, the Southeast nation’s technology sector heavily prioritizes ‘frontier’ technologies, ranging from chips to brain-computer fusion.
The first of the semiconductors being offered by Tencent is an artificial intelligence chip called Zixiao. This chip can process a range of media-centric paraphernalia, including images, video, and natural language. These could further serve artificial intelligent voice assistants that utilize computer ability in understanding and processing human language. The second chip offering, dubbed Canghai, is a video transcoding script needed in the conversion of videos into various formats. Finally, the third, Xuanling, is a network card design that can reportedly assist and enable cloud computing processes.
Dowson Tong Taosang, president of Tencent’s cloud and smart industries group, unveiled the three chips at the company’s Digital Ecosystem Summit in Wuhan. Tong said:
“Chips are the key components of hardware and the core infrastructure of the industrial internet.”
Furthermore, Tencent did not reveal which major chip foundry it contracted to manufacture the three silicon devices. However, Tong stated that the company intends to develop more advanced chips for the long term. As company official Tang Daosheng said in a statement posted on the WeChat account for Tencent Cloud:
“Facing scenarios with strong business needs, Tencent has had a long-term plan and investment for chip R&D.”
Tencent Chips One of Several Among China’s Top Tech Companies
Tencent’s recent initiative is reflective of several other technology giants in China who have been pumping money into semiconductors. For instance, Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) launched Kunlun 2, its second-generation artificial intelligence chip, and even a prototype robocar, back in August. In addition, ecommerce behemoth Alibaba (HKG: 9988), launched a new server chip designed to boost servers and cloud computing. Even smartphone companies in China are leveraging the ‘chip-mania’. For example, smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi, unveiled its Surge 1 chip for image processing in phone cameras this year.
However, just like with Tencent, many of these Chinese companies are only limited to designing their own chips. The other parts of the supply chain process, including manufacturing, still come from foreign companies. This trend currently presents an impediment to China’s domestic business ambitions.
Tencent is the operator of WeChat, China’s most popular messaging service, in addition to being the world’s largest gaming vendor. In a bid to diversify its business, the leading company has ventured into areas such as chip and cloud computing. In addition to unveiling its new chips, Tencent also announced its Orca cloud operating system. Earlier, the company pledged $3 billion in resources to help China’s cloud business partners over the next three years.
Alibaba and Tencent currently compete closely in China’s vast cloud infrastructure services market.