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Investors hope Chinese alternative to Nvidia’s car chips • TechCrunch

In China, homegrown chip companies are on the rise as Beijing seeks to cut itself off from U.S. sophistication and manage sanctions risks. In the red-hot field of self-driving cars, the venture capital-backed Chinese semiconductor company aims to offer the best alternative to the likes of Nvidia.

Chinese semiconductor companies are in a recession hurting sales and investor interest in the race to catch up with US competitors. More than 3,400 Chinese chip companies have gone bankrupt in the past year, according to a Financial Times tally.

But the top contenders still get funding. Robotics Horizons, founded by Baidu deep learning veterans, just received a strategic round from state-owned automaker Chery Automobile. The amount was not disclosed, but by the end of last year, Horizon had raised $3.4 billion in publicly announced funding.

Telecoms giant Huawei and startup Black Sesame Technologies are also among the more serious Chinese companies looking to challenge Nvidia’s dominance in making automotive chips. According to public data, Black Sesame has so far raised him $115 million.

So how does Horizon’s technology hold up against Nvidia’s? We launched Drive Thor, our next-generation automotive-grade chip, which attracted a lot of attention.

This silicon delivers 2,000 teraflops of performance, a significant step up from Nvidia’s current flagship Drive Orin, which offers 254 TOPS of performance. TOPS measures a processor’s ability to compute 1 trillion floating point operations per second.

By comparison, Horizon Robotics’ latest system-on-a-chip, called the Journey 5, features up to 128 TOPS, but also claims to be designed for Level 4 driving. The chip is expected to go into production in 2022.

Chinese automakers will likely find it hard to part with Nvidia’s cutting-edge chips, which are expected to greatly improve the smart driving and in-car entertainment capabilities of their cars.

The first to register was Zeekr, the premium electric vehicle brand of Geely, China’s largest privately owned automaker. Zeekr plans to deploy Drive Thor in 2025 when the chip enters mass production.

As my colleague Rebecca previously pointed out, Guangzhou-based Tesla challenger Xpeng is already using Orin Drive to power advanced driver assistance features in its flagship SUV G9. I’m here. Other Chinese automakers that have previously announced the use of Nvidia’s Drive Orin include internet giant Baidu’s EV brand Jidu and his US-listed EV startups NIO and Li Auto.

New U.S. sanctions have prevented Nvidia from selling high-end data center chips to China, but the U.S. company says it is still allowed to ship automotive chips to Chinese customers. says.

It remains to be seen how the Journey 5 will sell in the domestic market, but Horizon said last year that the chip was sold to several local automakers including SAIC Motor, Great Wall Motors, JAC Group, Changan Auto and BYD. claimed to have already received interest from The Beijing-based startup said he had shipped more than 1 million units of Journey series chips by the end of 2021.

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