One trillion won committed to AI chip development
One trillion won ($778 million) of funding will be provided by the government for AI semiconductor research and development over the next five years, the Ministry of Science and ICT said.
Over 7,000 AI chip experts will be added and a system for cooperation between academia and corporations will be developed, according to the ministry on Monday.
The announcement follows Minister of Science and ICT Lee Jong-ho's meeting with managements of chipmakers last month.
AI chips are purpose built to perform very specific calculations as fast as possible. They are distinct from general-purpose processors, which are designed for a wider variety of functions and are better suited for very specific, predetermined tasks that require impressive calculation capabilities and low energy consumption, such as voice recognition, autonomous driving, the metaverse and the Internet of Things.
Over 50 companies worldwide are developing AI chips, according to Gartner, which forecasts the global AI chip market to be $71.1 billion in size by 2025, more than double the market size of $34.3 billion in 2021.
The ministry also plans to conduct collaborative research with the United States, the current leader in AI chips, on Processing-In-Memory (PIM), Neural Processing Units and system software.
For domestic expansion, big corporations, such as Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, will provide technical advice regarding the development of Processing-In-Memory (PIM) chips. In PIM chips, processing and memory are integrated, reducing latency and addressing the von Neumann bottleneck.
Both companies said they will partially share their PIM fabrication processes with nine to ten domestic universities that are developing AI chips.
To nurture AI chip professionals, the government will establish an interdisciplinary department for AI chips at universities, which merge majors such as electronic engineering, computer engineering and physics. Earlier this month, the government said it will provide 1.4 billion won by 2024 to three universities, Seoul National University, Sungkyunkwan University and Soongsil University. It also plans to establish an AI chip graduate school and create a study abroad program for high-performing students in the area.
"Korea has the potential to dominate the global semiconductor industry with its competitive edge in the memory chip and foundry industries in the era of digital transformation," said Minister Lee.
"We will actively support the competitiveness of system semiconductors."
BY LEE SU-JEONG, CHO JUNG-WOO [email@example.com]