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KT aims to foster local chip-design industry

KT went all out to foster the country’s capability in semiconductor design, as the telecommunications company said Wednesday that it had invested 30 billion won ($23 million) in local fabless company Rebellions.

The company revealed it decided to invest in the local chip design firm in order to contribute to upgrading Korea’s capability in the fabless or chip design industry, which is lagging way behind other sectors of the semiconductor industry such as memory chips and the contract-based foundry business.

“While Korea ranks first in memory chip production and second in foundry, its global market share in chip design is only 1 percent,” a KT spokesperson said. “We thought there should be a win-win cooperation between large domestic companies and fabless startups to improve the country’s capability in the sector, and KT’s full investment and business cooperation are expected to serve as a priming water for that.”

Rebellions is KT’s second investment in an artificial intelligence (AI)-based chip design company, following its partnership with local company Moreh.

Established in 2020, Rebellions released AI chips specialized in financial transactions such as stock trading. After its AI chips received a warm response, the startup has been testing its product with global financial investment companies.

Through cooperation with local startups, KT expects the country could reduce its heavy dependence on graphics processing units (GPUs) that require AI technology to process data. In 2021, KT’s affiliate KT Cloud released its Hyperscale AI Computing service, a cloud computing-based GPU infrastructure service allowing customers to use high-cost GPU resources as much as they pay.

By cooperating with Rebellions, KT plans to complete the establishment of an ultra-large GPU farm with thousands of GPUs by combining AI chips.

“AI chips can be Korea’s next growth engine, we expect Rebellions to become a global fabless company like Nvidia and Qualcomm through cooperation with KT,” KT CEO Ku Hyeon-mo said.

“Although the investment environment is becoming difficult, KT’s investments in excellent startups will continue to expand.” The Korea Times

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