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S. Korean Gov’t to Develop AI Semiconductors for Autonomous Vehicles
Ramping up Investment in AI Chips
S. Korean Gov’t to Develop AI Semiconductors for Autonomous Vehicles
  • By Jung Suk-yee
  • May 9, 2019, 09:08
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The Korean government is ramping up investment in development of artificial intelligence (AI) chips for autonomous vehicles.

The South Korean government will invest 14.30 billion won (US$12.20 billion) over the next three years to develop artificial intelligence (AI) semiconductors for autonomous vehicles.

The government is also planning to invest a total of 247.50 billion won (US$211.09 million) to develop AI semiconductor source technologies over the next 10 years as its next-generation smart semiconductor development project passed the preliminary feasibility study last month.

The Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) announced on May 8 that it would expand investment in autonomous vehicles, which have been selected as one of the five core service sectors of its “5G+” strategy.

One unit of fully autonomous vehicle at Level 4 and above uses about 2,000 semiconductors and the semiconductor market for self-driving cars will grow to US$26.30 billion (30.84 trillion won) in 2025, according to the data from global research and advisory company Gartner

Accordingly, the government is planning to support the advancement of the autonomous vehicle industry and related services by developing memory chips for driverless cars. It will provide 14.28 billion won (US$12.18 million) for three years starting from this year for fables companies and auto parts producers to jointly develop auto semiconductors which execute AI functions. Fabless companies will develop technologies on demand from component companies, which in turn will apply the newly invented technologies to their products.

In addition to the development of memory chips for autonomous vehicles, the government is planning to jointly develop core source technologies with the semiconductor industry, including AI processor which has a 25 times faster operation processing speed than existing products, software which can run such processors and an interface which can transmit large blocks of data at a high speed.

Furthermore, it plans to establish infrastructure that allows the whole industry to share semiconductor design tools in the second half of this year. This project costs 4.60 billion won (US$3.92 million) and will be financed by the supplementary budget. A design tool is often considered an initial entry barrier for fables companies. Since it is software required to design semiconductors, its expensive price, which reaches 100 million won to 200 million won (US$85,290 to US$170,580) per unit puts a heavy burden on small and mid-sized fabless firms. Accordingly, the MSIT is planning to purchase approximately 30 types of design tools which are widely used by fabless companies after conducting a demand survey and help fabless firms download them online.