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Startups

Top industry talents launch AI chip startup; market takes note

Rebellions has raised 5.5 billion won based on the teams' background experience alone

By Jul 15, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

From left: CTO Oh Jin-wook, CEO Park Sung-hyun, co-founder Shin Sung-ho, CPO Kim Hyo-eun
From left: CTO Oh Jin-wook, CEO Park Sung-hyun, co-founder Shin Sung-ho, CPO Kim Hyo-eun


South Korea-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup Rebellions Inc. is drawing industry attention as AI chips become mainstays of the semiconductor industry, and most importantly, because its high-profile founding members are former veterans of Samsung, SpaceX, IBM, Morgan Stanley and Lunit.

Having seasoned experts on the team has helped establish the company's credibility and potential, attracting investment although it has yet to release a product. Last year, Rebellions raised 5.5 billion won ($4.8 million) in seed funding from investors including Kakao Ventures and Shinhan Capital.

Industry watchers expect Rebellions' AI chips to offer high-level performance alongside versatility, which is often compromised with advanced computer performance. Rebellions is set to unveil its AI chip in November, according to CEO Park.

The company's impressive lineup is headed by Chief Executive Park Sung-hyun, formerly a developer at Morgan Stanley and SpaceX, a US-based aerospace company headed by Elon Musk.

The company's Chief Technology Officer Oh Jin-wook previously designed AI chips at IBM and the Chief Product Officer Kim Hyo-eun developed deep learning technology at the AI medical device company, Lunit.

Rebellions also hired Kim Hyun-sook, a former chief researcher at Samsung System LSI, to enhance its software capability, as software design is as important as creating sound hardware to enhance AI chip performance.

Other employees include industry veterans from leading chipmaker SK Hynix Inc. and researchers from the country's prestigious Seoul National University and top engineering institute, Pohang University of Science And Technology (POSTECH).

AI chips have emerged as the industry favorite as they can process thousands of calculations simultaneously compared to a typical semiconductor that processes a single calculation on average.

Market research firm Gartner predicts the global AI chip market to grow drastically from $12.3 billion in 2019 to $43.9 billion in 2024.

Tech giants like Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are also developing AI semiconductors, but the general view is that their products won’t be easy for other companies to use since most of them develop AI chips based on their own products and services.

Rebellions has completed the design of AI core, which is key to AI semiconductors. The company plans to use AI core to produce system on chips (SoCs) specialized for specific sectors such as autonomous driving, data centers and financial institutions.

Write to Joo-wan Kim at kjwan@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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