ByteDance confirms chip development plan amid China’s tech self sufficiency initiative

July 19, 2022 0 Comments

ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, has confirmed today that the company is exploring the development of its own chips, since it has failed to find a supplier which could meet its requirements. Self-designed chips will be used internally only, as they will be customized to handle workloads related to ByteDance’s multiple business areas, including video platforms, messaging and entertainment. 

ByteDance joins the likes of Baidu and Alibaba to make chips in-house for special purposes, echoing China’s ongoing tech independence and self reliance initiative,  which was put forward after China-U.S. relations intensified.

The market has long suspected ByteDance would start its own chip-designing project, after Yang Zhenyuan, former vice president of ByteDance said in April 2018 that the company has a large demand for chips for various applications, and is actively seeking breakthroughs in chip-related fields.

In March 2021, the company posted 12 chip-related jobs including chip application, chip engineer, and others. In June, ByteDance opened more job postings related to chips, including multiple intern positions. According to the job descriptions, ByteDance requires candidates to be familiar with RISC-V or ARMv8 systems, and the X86 system for developer roles.

According to the company’s official website, there are currently 31 chip-related listings. The positions are supposed to cover the entire chip design cycle.

In addition, ByteDance has also invested in a number of chip manufacturers in recent years, including Stream Computing, Moore Threads, Runic Technology, RiVAI, Shanghai Yan Silicon, Optiark Semiconductor, and Wuhan Silicon Integrated. Multiple chip companies that ByteDance invested in focus on RISC-V — e.g. RiVAI and Stream Computing — while some of the others focus on GPU, e.g. Moore Threads.

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