KT bolsters bid to localize GPUs through investment in AI semiconductor fabless company

By Lim Chang-won Posted : July 6, 2022, 14:34 Updated : July 6, 2022, 14:34

[Courtesy of KT]

SEOUL -- South Korea's top telecom company KT bolstered its bid to localize high-performance graphic processing units (GPUs) and establish a mega-sized GPU farm by making a strategic investment worth 30 billion won ($23 million) in Rebellions, a domestic AI semiconductor fabless company. The goal is to reduce South Korea's heavy dependence on imported products.

Rebellions has a competitive technology in designing an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), which is an integrated circuit chip customized for a particular use. GPUs are efficient in processing large data for artificial intelligence, but they are very expensive. South Korea is heavily dependent on imported GPUs. AI developers have created neural processing units (NPUs) for rapid data processing. 

KT said the investment in Rebellions is designed to set up a tripartite cooperation structure involving Moreh, a domestic AI infrastructure solution company, and develop NPUs optimized for AI algorithms. KT forged a partnership with Morech in October 2021 to establish a GPU farm, localize GPUs and create an easily accessible AI development environment for domestic developers. 

KT revealed its strategy to nurture Revbellions as a global company like Nvidia, an American tech company. "As AI semiconductors are a key area that can be South Korea's next-generation growth engine, we hope that Rebellions, a leader in the domestic AI semiconductor field, will become a global fabless company like Nvidia and Qualcomm," KT CEO Ku Hyeon-mo said in a statement on July 6.

KT will pioneer NPU markets where demand will increase in many areas such as data centers and autonomous driving. The company will maximize the efficiency of existing hyperscale AI computing to provide cheaper and high-performance AI infrastructure to domestic companies, AI startups, and universities. 

In December 2021, KT released "Hyperscale AI Computing," a subscription service for companies and developers who need powerful cloud-based GPU infrastructure for AI development. In 2023, KT will apply AI semiconductors developed exclusively for hyperscale AI computing to its GPU farm. 

KT thinks its strategy will greatly contribute to South Korea's AI ecosystem by competing with global companies such as Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS). "We hope that collaboration with KT, a strong cloud and Internet data center, to be a driving force for new growth and businesses," said Rebellions CEO Park Sung-hyun. "We will be able to show that pure domestic technology is competitive in the world."

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