AI chip startup Tenstorrent recently announced a major $100 million investment led by automotive giant Hyundai Motor Group and Samsung's Catalyst Fund. This strategic financing highlights the massive growth potential in AI chips for autonomous vehicles and other applications.
Tenstorrent is focused on developing high-performance AI accelerators and RISC-V-based processors, aiming to challenge incumbents like Nvidia. The startup is led by industry veteran Jim Keller, known for his work on chips at Apple, Tesla, and Intel.
Keller took over as Tenstorrent's CEO earlier this year and has quickly attracted interest from major players. Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia together contributed $50 million, while Samsung chipped in $20 million through its Catalyst Fund. Other participants included Fidelity Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, Epiq Capital and Maverick Capital.
For Hyundai, the investment aligns with its push into electric and autonomous vehicles. The automaker wants to leverage Tenstorrent's technology for AI capabilities in future vehicles across its brands. This allows Hyundai to gain valuable access to bleeding-edge AI hardware.
“With this investment, the Group expects to develop optimized but differentiated semiconductor technology that will aid future mobilities and strengthen internal capabilities in AI technology development.” - Heung-soo Kim, Executive Vice President at Hyundai Motor Group
Similarly, the investment lets Samsung strengthen its position in the red-hot AI chips space. The electronics giant can tap into Tenstorrent's innovations as both an investor and manufacturing partner.
Tenstorrent also inked a partnership with LG earlier this year to supply AI chips for smart TVs. With these deals, the startup is establishing relationships with major consumer tech brands in auto, mobile and electronics.
The funding comes as Tenstorrent is reportedly valued at over $1 billion, cementing its status as one of the most promising AI chip startups. It plans to use the new capital to expand its operations and accelerate product development.
As AI transforms everything from self-driving cars to voice assistants, demand for specialized AI hardware is surging. Tenstorrent with its tech pedigree and high-profile backers seems poised to compete with NVIDIA in this booming market.
This investment round highlights the surging interest in AI chip startups among both strategic and financial players. As AI becomes ubiquitous, expect more of these generously-funded deals in the red-hot chip sector.