This article is based on an interview undertaken by FusionMedium’s technology online media, TechOrange, and published with permission:
In recent years, the high-tech manufacturing market has been making efforts to respond to the demand for diversified smart devices. With an increasing demand for customized AI chips, such components cannot be produced in traditional supply chain models.
To meet the needs of tomorrow, Taiwan AI chip start-up Kneron has been developing its own AI system on monolithic chips since 2015. The firm has already established a presence in the United States, mainland China, Taiwan, and Northeast Asia. Albert Liu, Founder & CEO of Kneron, said that since the first day of operation, Kneron has stood by its mission of “making AI ubiquitous”, and expects that in the future, for every terminal device, Kneron will be the provider of the intelligent AI chips that run it.
How does Kneron take the lead in the AI market? CEO Albert Liu: Fast, early and hard-working
“We are just faster, earlier, and more determined than others.” Compared with the world’s major manufacturers, Kneron realized the importance of implementing applications early. So the chip maker started to focus on developing products and customers from the time when the concept of edge AI was still new and yet relatively unknown.
“In the process of AI industrialization, it is also important to know the characteristics, acceptance, and timeline of each market,” Liu said. Since the Chinese market is highly receptive to new things and is open to the quick introduction of new products, in 2016 Kneron partnered with Chinese Internet companies Tencent Holdings and Baidu to roll out a pure cloud-based AI algorithm service, acquiring a large amount of car data and gained a head start in the industry.
Now in its seventh year, Kneron’s product lines are divided into four major categories. In the server market, customers include Quanta Computer and Chunghwa Telecom. In the Internet of Things segment, customers include Hanwha group, D-Link, and Italy’s Spark Security. In automotive, customers are mainly Chinese and Japanese brands, including Toyota and Nissan, among others. In recent years, Kneron has also partnered with MIH Consortium and Zhongxing Bus.
Identifying the demand of a decentralized architecture for the vehicles of the future, Kneron enters the automotive market with “Lego-style” chips
Liu said that the reason that Kneron decided to enter the automotive field in 2020 is closely related to the industrial introduction cycle. The introduction cycle of the automotive pre-loading sector, from the start of a collaboration to actual mass production, often spans 3 to 5 years. Currently, vendors are few that can accommodate such a long partnership cycle and deliver AI, chip and system solutions.
To meet the needs of application-side customers, Kneron’s strategy is to develop vertical product lines – software, applications, models, and underlying chips – in a single package that can be adjusted simultaneously demonstrating its flexibility and flexible differentiation advantage.
What are the future challenges for Taiwan’s automotive supply chain?
Taiwanese manufacturers want to start solving the challenges faced by the automotive market with AI chips. Commenting on this, Liu said frankly that the innate lack of a complete automotive industry structure is Taiwan’s biggest challenge.
Liu said this is why Kneron still generates 70-80% of its revenue from overseas markets. In addition, Kneron has been directly connecting with the world in terms of both talent and market, including recruiting seasoned engineers and executives from Taiwan, mainland China and the United States.
In addition to expanding into international markets, Kneron is actively cultivating the local AI ecosystem in Taiwan, including promoting AI-related education courses in rural elementary schools, high schools, and universities, as well as joining the AI on Chip Industrial Cooperation Strategic Alliance launched by the Smart Electronics Industry Project Promotion Office (SIPO) of the Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The Alliance also helped introduce partners from the upstream and downstream of the industry chain to jointly invest in the development of core AI on Chip areas, and expand the international visibility and competitiveness of Taiwan’s AI industry as a whole.
“Taiwan has mastered the three most important elements of the AI era: data, cutting-edge algorithms, and computing power (semiconductors). With a solid supply chain in Taiwan, we believe our prospects look promising for success in the AI era. I look forward to the day we can give back to our hometown instead of investing in businesses and national policies in other countries.”
Contact: Shine Chiu, +886 919-031-282, email@example.com