KT invests $23M in AI chip start-up Rebellions

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KT invests $23M in AI chip start-up Rebellions

KT is investing 30 billion won ($22.9 million) in a local AI chip start-up, the company said Wednesday.
Rebellions, started in 2020, is a custom chip designer headquartered in Seongnam, Gyeonggi. KT wants to co-develop AI chips with Rebellions for cloud services and data centers.
The ultimate goal is to reduce overseas dependence on graphic processing units (GPUs) by using domestic chips. GPUs are used for large-scale data processing, and the global GPU market is dominated by overseas companies such as Nvidia.
KT formed a strategic partnership with local software company Moreh last year to introduce a beta test version of a software-powered “hyperscale AI computing” service, which is supposed to boost the computing capabilities of a device through virtualized GPUs.
KT plans to bring Rebellions in on the project with Moreh to develop neural processing units (NPUs), which are more advanced and energy-efficient than GPUs. NPUs are expected to be in demand in a variety of areas including data centers and autonomous driving.
KT will oversee the development and operation of services using the hardware developed by Rebellions and software developed by Moreh.
Within this year, KT said it will set up a GPU "farm" with thousands of GPUs, a server cluster that performs calculations, and use its AI chips developed with Rebellions and Moreh on the GPU farm by 2023. Global expansion is scheduled for 2024, said KT.
“Collaboration with KT, the market leader in Internet data center and cloud service sectors and our first strategic partner in Korea, will be the driving force for Rebellions new growth and businesses,” said Rebellions CEO Park Sung-hyun. 
Park added that “based on Rebellions’ technology development capabilities, we will localize AI chips and show how domestically-developed technologies can be competitive in the global market.”
“We expect Rebellions, the frontrunner in Korea’s AI chip sector, to become a global fabless company such as Nvidia and Qualcomm through collaboration with KT,” KT CEO Ku Hyeon-mo said.

BY SHIN HA-NEE [shin.hanee@joongang.co.kr]
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