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China's ByteDance Collaborates with Broadcom to Develop Advanced AI Chip

ByteDance is cooperating with Broadcom to create an advanced AI processor that complies with US export limitations. TSMC will produce the chip in Taiwan. This collaboration will help ByteDance secure a consistent supply of high-end CPUs while also lowering procurement expenses.

ByteDance logo

The proposed device, a 5 nanometer tailored product known as an application-specific integrated chip (ASIC), would be compliant with US export regulations. The chip's manufacturing will be outsourced to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the sources said.

This collaboration between ByteDance and Broadcom is noteworthy because there have been no publicly reported chip development agreements between Chinese and US companies employing 5nm or more advanced technology since the implementation of export controls for cutting-edge semiconductors in 2022. Typically, deals in this industry use less sophisticated technologies.

The collaboration with Broadcom, an existing business partner, would not only help ByteDance decrease procurement costs but also secure a consistent supply of higher-end chips. The sources, who wished to remain unnamed due to the sensitivity of semiconductor issues in China, disclosed that TSMC will not begin manufacturing the new chip this year. While design work is well along, manufacturing has yet to commence.

ByteDance and Broadcom declined to comment on the collaboration, while TSMC did not issue a response.

ByteDance, like many other global IT corporations, has made significant investments in generative artificial intelligence. However, compared to their international rivals, Chinese enterprises have limited access to AI chips. U.S. export prohibitions have made Nvidia's most powerful chipsets inaccessible to Chinese enterprises, including ByteDance, stifling progress in AI and supercomputing for China's military. The rivalry for US processors made expressly for the Chinese market, as well as those from competitor Huawei, is fierce.

ByteDance and Broadcom have been business partners since at least 2022. Broadcom's public announcements confirm that ByteDance has ordered their Tomahawk 5nm high-performance switch chip and Bailly switch for AI computer clusters.

Securing AI chips is critical for ByteDance to increase the power of its algorithms. In addition to TikTok and the Chinese version of the app, Douyin, ByteDance operates a number of popular apps, including Doubao, a chatbot service akin to ChatGPT that has 26 million users.

According to one source familiar with the situation, ByteDance has stockpiled Nvidia chips to boost its AI projects. This includes A100 and H100 chips purchased before to the first round of US sanctions, as well as A800 and H800 chips designed expressly for the Chinese market but later subject to limitations. According to the source, ByteDance earmarked $2 billion for Nvidia processor purchases last year. ByteDance also purchased Huawei's Ascend 910B chips in 2022, according to multiple sources.

ByteDance currently has a number of semiconductor-related job openings listed on their website, including 15 positions for ASIC chip designers. A source with intimate knowledge of the situation confirms that the company has also been recruiting top staff from other Chinese AI chip firms.

  • ByteDance is collaborating with Broadcom to develop an advanced AI chip compliant with U.S. export restrictions.

  • The chip will be manufactured by TSMC in Taiwan.

  • This partnership will help ByteDance secure a stable supply of high-end chips and reduce procurement costs.


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