Chinese Tencent launches three new chips

People walked past the Tencent booth at the China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing on September 6, 2020.

Noel Celis | AFP | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Tencent launched three chips it developed on Wednesday, marking the first time the Chinese internet giant has spoken publicly about its progress in semiconductors.

It comes as China continues to try to bolster its domestic chip industry, making it a strategic priority for the country’s technology sector.

Tencent, one of the world’s largest gaming companies and the operator of China’s most popular messaging service WeChat, has invested in chips and cloud computing, among other things, to diversify its business.

One of the semiconductors is an artificial intelligence chip called Zixiao. The chip can process images, video and natural language, which could be used, for example, for AI speech assistants that rely on computers’ ability to understand and process human language.

The second is a video transcoding chip. These are needed to convert videos to different formats.

The third is a so-called network card designed to support cloud computing processes.

China’s tech giants have all put money into semiconductors.

In August, Baidu launched its second-generation artificial intelligence chip. Last month, Alibaba released a chip designed for servers and cloud computing.

However, Chinese companies only design their own chips. Manufacturing and other parts of the supply chain still rely heavily on foreign companies, challenging China’s domestic ambitions.

Tencent has not disclosed which companies produced the silicon.

“Chips are the core component of hardware and the core infrastructure of the industrial internet,” said Dowson Tong, the CEO of Tencent’s cloud and smart industry group in an official WeChat post from the company.


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