ByteDance starts working with Broadcom to develop AI chips

ByteDance, the owner of video platform TikTok, is working with US-based Broadcom on developing an advanced AI processor to secure supply of high-end chips, Reuters news report said.

Broadcom chipset

ByteDance has launched a major push in generative artificial intelligence. ByteDance launched several AI products, including chatbots Doubao and Cici, as well as application development platform Coze.

ByteDance’s AI-powered content recommendation system, which feeds personalised content to users of TikTok, Douyin and news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, has been regarded in the industry as a very successful AI use case.

Why develop own chips

The 5 nanometre chip – a customised product known as an application-specific integrated chip (ASIC) – would be compliant with U.S. export restrictions and manufacturing work would be outsourced to Taiwan’s TSMC.

In 2022, US introduced export controls for advanced semiconductors including 5nm or more advanced technology.

The tie-up between China’s ByteDance and Broadcom, an existing business partner, would help slash procurement costs and ensure a stable supply of higher-end chips for its AI projects. TSMC, ByteDance and Broadcom did not comment.

Nvidia’s chipsets are out of reach due to U.S. export controls. Competition for U.S. chips developed specifically for the Chinese market as well as those from rival Huawei, one of the few Chinese makers of AI accelerators, is fierce.

ByteDance and Broadcom have been partners since at least 2022. The Chinese firm has purchased the U.S. company’s Tomahawk 5nm high-performance switch chip as well as its Bailly switch for AI computer clusters, Broadcom has said in public statements.

AI chips are important for ByteDance to make its algorithms more powerful. In addition to TikTok and the Chinese version of the short-video app called Douyin, ByteDance operates popular apps including a ChatGPT-like chatbot service called Doubao, which has 26 million users.

ByteDance has purchased Nvidia chips that include A100 and H100 chips to support its AI push. Besides, ByteDance also purchased A800 and H800 chips that Nvidia made for the China market. ByteDance allocated $2 billion for purchases of Nvidia chips last year. ByteDance also purchased Huawei’s Ascend 910B chips last year.

Bytedance has hundreds of semiconductor-related job openings posted, including 15 for ASIC chip designers, according to its website.

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