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Amazon participated in the private placement for SIP Core provider Alchip

Monday, May 20, 2024

Amazon participated in the private placement for SIP Core provider Alchip, purchasing around a 0.3% share in Alchip for US$16 million. Regarding this move, Bloomberg Opinion columnist Tim Culpan wrote on LinkedIn that in the current era of the AI development boom, having independent chip R&D capabilities is a major advantage in differentiating one's competitiveness.

Amazon's minor investment in Alchip, which has the likes of TSMC and SoftBank as early investors, has a significant meaning for Amazon regarding self-developed AI chips. It signifies support for Alchip and implies that the two companies may maintain a customer relationship for a while.

Culpan pointed out that before the sale of their stakes in 2016, TSMC and SoftBank held 11% and 20% shares in Alchip, respectively. Alchip occupies a unique niche market in the semiconductor sector, akin to the market roles of Marvell and Broadcom.

Essentially, these companies provide chip design services to external clients. However, their true value lies in their key participation in the semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem.

With data center giants like Alphabet, Microsoft, and Meta all attempting to self-develop their own server chips to replace their reliance on Intel, AMD, and Nvidia chips, they have started to notice design service providers like Alchip and Marvell.

This demand is even more pronounced in the current era where AI acceleration drives the computing power of data center chips. Therefore, the aforementioned global data center giants have all invested in proprietary AI chip R&D.

Besides Alchip, Marvell and Broadcom have also emerged as notable players in this wave of AI chip development. They are seen as two major chip winners who kept up with the AI wave, capable of capturing the custom chip market that Nvidia has yet to reach.

Marvell CEO Matt Murphy revealed in April that the company has secured its third major AI customer and is collaborating to design an AI accelerator expected to begin production in 2026; this customer is believed to be Microsoft.

Marvell also stated that its first customer is integrating Marvell chips into its AI clusters and systems, and the two sides are jointly developing new customized AI accelerators. This customer is likely Amazon, and Marvell's second major AI customer is likely Google.

Culpan commented that these collaboration trends are formed because, in the AI era, customers are inclined to deepen their involvement in customized chip development, believing that ASICs developed this way will help create advantages in technology and cost.

Alchip benefits from its partnership with TSMC, enabling it to not only provide advanced node designs like 5nm but also to provide its customers with CoWoS packaging capacity, allowing Alchip to assist customers in designing, manufacturing, and packaging processor cores and High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM).

By: DocMemory
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