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AI chip startup DEEPX secures $80 million in Series C funding at $529 million valuation

DEEPX is a Korean device artificial intelligence chip (NPU, or neural processing unit) startup that makes hardware and software for various artificial intelligence applications in electronic devices. The company announced this week that it raised US$80 million (108.5 billion won) in Series C financing, valuing it at US$529 million (723 billion won), soaring more than eight times from Series B financing (about US$15 million). 2021.

The Series C funding brings its total funding to approximately $95 million and will be used for mass production and global distribution of the startup’s first products, DX-V1, DX-V3, DX-M1 and DX-H1, by the end of 2024. The startup will also use the new funding to accelerate the development and launch of next-generation large language model (LLM) on-device solutions.

DEEPX was founded in 2018 by CEO Lokwon Kim, who previously worked at Apple, Cisco Systems, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center and Broadcom.

According to a recent report, the global edge AI (also known as on-device AI) market size is expected to increase from US$11.98 billion in 2021 to US$107.47 billion in 2029. “The on-device AI market (excluding edge servers) requires bypassing servers or the cloud to implement AI capabilities,” Kim told TechCrunch. “this [on-device AI market] Expanding due to computer vision capabilities such as facial and speech recognition, smart mobility, robotics, IoT, and physical security systems. ”

Kim said that if mass production starts this year, potential customers such as end product manufacturers will be able to commercialize their products with DEEPX’s AI chips in 2025.

DEEPX, which has about 65 employees, is not the only company developing AI chip solutions. The South Korean company’s rival Hailo received $120 million in funding last month; Also in April, closed at $70 million; Belgium-based artificial intelligence chip startup Axelera received $120 million in funding in 2022 raised $27 million in financing.

Kim said his company’s strengths include cost efficiency, energy consumption efficiency and All-in-4 AI overall solutions, which are comprehensive solutions for various AI applications. Its All-in-4 AI solutions include: DX-V1 and DX-V3, designed for home appliance vision systems, surveillance camera systems, robot vision and drones; and DX-M1 and DX-H1, designed for AI Designed for computing boxes, AI servers, smart factories and AI booster chips. Kim said DEEPX currently has more than 259 patent applications pending in the United States, China and South Korea.

“Nvidia’s GPGPU-based solution is the most cost-effective for large-scale language model services such as ChatGPT; the total power consumed by the GPU during operation has exceeded the electrical energy of the entire country,” Kim said. “This collaborative operation technology between server-scale AI and large-scale AI models on devices is expected to significantly reduce energy consumption and costs compared to relying solely on data centers.”

The startup does not have customers yet, but is working with more than 100 potential customers and strategic partners, including Hyundai Kia Automotive Robotics Laboratory and Korean IT company POSCO DX, to test DEEPX’s AI chip capabilities.

South Korea-based technology-focused private equity firm SkyLake Equity Partners led the latest investment, with BNW Investments also participating. BNW Investments is a South Korean private equity firm founded by the former president of Samsung LED and Samsung Electronics’ memory chip division. AJU IB and previous investor Timefolio Asset Management also participated in the round.

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