Alibaba has bought the chip-making company Hangzhou C-SKY Microsystems Co., Ltd. to expand on chip development. It is ideal news for China as it is carrying out a campaign to self-reliance in key technologies such as semiconductors. Initiation of the campaign followed a recent U.S. ban on companies selling types of equipment to Chinese telecom company ZTE Corp.
As Alibaba buys C-Sky Microsystems, it remained silent when asked to comment on this. But Jeff Zhang, Chief Technology Officer of Alibaba, said it is an important step for the company’s chip development.
On the other hand, C-SKY, founded in 2001 and based in Hangzhou, is specialized in developing embedded CPU and chip architecture. According to the company, it is the only embedded CPU volume provider in the country that has its own instruction set architecture.
C-SKY is known to have developed 7 types of embedded CPUs. This equipment finds its purpose in various embedded applications like IoT, digital audio and video, network and communications, information security, automotive electronics, and industrial control. The year 2016 saw over 500 million SoCs (system on chip) shipped that are based on the company architecture.
Now, the Alibaba C-Sky Microsystems acquisition is the latest of its spree of investing in chip-making companies. Its previous investments include the likes of DeePhi Tech, Kneron, and Cambricon Technologies.
In terms of chip development, local media reports that Alibaba has started developing Ali-NPU. It is an AI chip for image and video recognition, enhancing power, and low-cost maintenance for cloud computing.
Alibaba is as well developing a neural network chip for machine learning and image analysis. This project has an investment tag of $15 billion of funding via the company’s global research and development program DAMO Academy.
That’s a lot of chips for Alibaba to put in one basket! The tech giant certainly has a lot more to give to the chip-making industry. Stay tuned to get the next update on its movements as it surfaces.