Tesla & Apple Supplier Delta Invests $7 Million In AI Company Kneron
Its chips are low-power and enable on-device AI processing with software that’s customised by it.
The biggest problem plaguing the automotive industry is the global semiconductor shortage. While this is happening a major Tesla supplier Delta has invested $7 million in Kneron which is a start-up that specialises in developing semiconductors that add artificial intelligence capabilities by using edge computing. Delta which is based in Taiwan notably supplies to both Apple and Tesla. This means Kneron has overall raised $100 million. As a result of this deal, Kneron will buy Vatics, a part of Delta Electronics Vivotek for $10 million in cash. These new assets complement Kneron’s business, especially for it to serve the boom of electric and autonomous cars.
“This acquisition will allow us to offer full-stack AI solutions, along with our current class-leading NPUs [neural processing units], and will significantly speed up our go-to-market strategy,” said Kneron’s founder and CEO, Albert Liu.
Vatics is an ISP provider which has been selling system on chip (SoC) and IP to manufacturers for surveillance, consumer and automotive products for many years. Potentially, this technology can be paired with LiDAR and camera sensors.
Kneron’s technology has developed so quickly in the AI field that it is taking on the likes of Intel and Google as well. Its chips are low-power and enable on-device AI processing with software that’s customised by it. Kneron has bet big on native on-device processing than edge computing and cloud-based processing. This is a less data-intensive approach with lesser latency issues.
Vatics executives will join Kneron to lead its surveillance and automotive parts division. They will be making image signal processors (ISPs), which will be coupled with neural processing units. Notably, this is an approach similar to smartphone chips, especially Apple’s.
Apple’s A and M series of SoCs which are in the iPhone, iPad and now the Mac, have on-board image signal processors, ARM-based CPU cores, GPU cores, neural processing units that Apple calls the neural engine and other machine learning accelerators. All of this is embalmed on a single die which comprises to be a system on chip (SoC).
These chipsets are already amongst the most powerful ones in consumer electronics. Conceptually, when this model is scaled to automobiles, even an on-device processing mechanism can crunch big levels of data. Already, Tesla has developed its own self-driving chipset and players like Qualcomm and Nvidia are all in on on-device processing for the future of autonomous cars.
Kneron is backed by some industry heavyweights – Foxconn, Qualcomm, Sequoia Capital, Alibaba, Li K-shing’s Horizon Ventures and now Delta Electronics.
It has developed chipsets for manufacturing, smart homes, smartphones, robotics, surveillance and payments to even autonomous driving. It already has partnerships with Foxconn and Otus who are suppliers for Honda and Toyota. Foxconn is also said to be in talks with Apple for manufacturing the Apple Car as it also manufactures its gadgets like the iPhone, iPad and MacBook.