July 14, 2024
AI image of chip development / ByteDance and Broadcom in talks for further collaboration on advanced chip project

ByteDance and Broadcom are in talks to develop an AI processor for the parent company of TikTok.

The proposed deal between the Chinese firm and the US chip designer, which share an existing relationship, would effectively safeguard ByteDance’s procurement and supply chains while supporting their advances in AI development.

The manufacturing of the new chip would be outsourced to TSMC, the world’s leading supplier of advanced semiconductors, representing a crucial juncture to satisfy US concerns given the ongoing trade restrictions with China, which prohibit the export of cutting-edge components.

This compliance with the measures put in place by Washington back in 2022 means there is scope for a deal to be completed but it will still be subject to scrutiny.

Despite some deals on older semiconductor technology, the US curbs have prevented any public movement on the trading of 5nm tech or more advanced chips, but this unique agreement can be secured.

Broadcom’s existing relationship with ByteDance

At this stage of the planned ByteDance Broadcom collaboration, the US must be content that there is no significant prospect of enhancing China’s chipmaking development, given the previous actions the government has taken.

ByteDance will also be working with two major global chip makers, in what is an unusual step.

As first reported by Reuters, the collective work would be focused on the 5-nanometer chip, a dedicated product also known as an application-specific integrated chip (ASIC). No final agreement is in place, but given the existing relationship between ByteDance and Broadcom, the basis for a new project is already in place. 

The US designer is heavily involved in supporting the TikTok owner’s server and network infrastructure, especially with the use of its 7nm processor. ByteDance also operates local services, Douyin and Toutiao, with the former named as China’s leading AI chatbot this year, and the latter a new aggregator “content king”.  

The company has an insatiable need for power and growth, enhancing its need for advanced chips, especially for its complex algorithms. Similar steps are being taken by rival tech and social media giants such as Meta, Microsoft, and Google-parent Alphabet which are all using, or developing, their own advanced processors.

Meta is also known to be in talks with Apple on AI development, with the iPhone maker already bringing OpenAI’s ChatGPT on board for integration with its new Intelligence system.

Image credit via Ideogram

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