Tencent launches three new chips as China’s tech giants bolster efforts in semiconductors


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People walked past the Tencent booth at the China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing on Sept. 6, 2020.
Noel Celis | AFP | Getty Images

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

It comes as China continues to try and 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 been investing in areas including chips and cloud computing to diversify its business.

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

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

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

China’s technology giants have all been pouring 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 are only designing their own chips. Manufacturing and other parts of the supply chain still rely heavily on foreign companies, which is a challenge to China’s domestic ambitions.

Tencent did not reveal which companies were manufacturing the silicon.

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

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