SK wireless, chipmaking, investment units join forces for AI chip and innovation

Na Hyun-joon, Oh Chan-jong, and Lee Eun-joo 2022. 1. 10. 10:48
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[Photo provided by SK hynix Inc.]
South Korean conglomerate SK Group is mustering flagships in investment, wireless network, and chipmaking to double down on the race for global leadership in artificial intelligence, next-gen chips, and metaverse based on the initial joint fund of minimum 1 trillion won ($834 million).

The first byproduct would be SAPEON Inc. based in the United States to commercialize AI chips critical to power machine learning capabilities.

The vision was unveiled in a joint press conference at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the U.S., on Thursday, local time by Park Jung-ho, vice chairman of SK Square, Ryu Young-sang, chief executive of SK Telecom, and Lee Seok-hee, chief executive of SK hynix.

The team SK will jointly develop and invest in ICT convergence technologies to enhance synergy and global market opportunities.

The three would first create a decision-making business council this month led by the CEOs of the three companies for fast actions upon M&A and investment opportunities. They will create an investment overseas base with the initial capital of minimum 1 trillion won this year.

Their first player will be SAPEON Inc. SK Telecom that developed SAPEON AI chip will invest 50 billion won to own 65 percent, while SK hynix will commit 25 percent and SK Square 10 percent. SAPEON Korea will go under SK’s U.S. corporation to oversee foray in Asia.

SK hynix said in a statement that detailed discussions on investments are “already underway with prominent global investors.”

Park, vice chairman and chief executive of SK Square and SK hynix met with Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon at CES and discussed partnership in ICT fields such as chips and 5G. Amon expressed desire to work together to pioneer new markets, mentioning Meta’s virtual reality device Oculus.

SAPEON is self-developed microprocessor for deep learning computation at higher speed and low power. SAPEON’s deep learning computation speed is 1.5 times faster while using 20 percent less power than graphics processing unit.

SK Telecom plans to lead SAPEON technology development based on its R&D capacity and service experience. In the mid-to long-term, it also plans to expand SAPEON model lineup for data centers and autonomous driving.

SK hynix will focus on creating synergy with its existing memory chip technology and AI chips. The company will also enhance its competitiveness in the U.S. and expand new partnerships. It plans to create a business entity in the Americas and set up a R&D center.

“By proactively responding to changes taking place in the areas of AI, metaverse and 5G, we will prepare ourselves for the next decade,” Ryu of SK Telecom said.

Park also said “this year, the SK ICT Alliance will join forces to achieve new innovations and make a big leap forward in the global market.”

[ㄏ Maeil Business Newspaper &, All rights reserved]

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