ByteDance by name may not be familiar to many, but their product is. They are the creators of TikTok, are one of China’s most successful startups, and soon a new entrant in the semiconductor market. New clues indicate that they are exploring the idea of designing their chips to diversify their business beyond the viral video app (and the homework lamp).
After TikTok, semiconductors: ByteDance explores designing its ARM-based chips
According to Reuters, the company has been publishing different job offers related to the design and creation of semiconductors. They have also confirmed to the media that they are exploring the idea of manufacturing their ARM-based chips.
TikTok’s parent company has specialized in artificial intelligence recommendation engines in recent years. The result of this specialization is reflected in TikTok, with one of the most powerful recommendation algorithms on the market. This is why they refused to sell the technology at the time to a U.S. company.
This specialization in artificial intelligence also requires hardware to run it, which could be ByteDance’s next step. ARM-based chips of its own could help it create its ecosystem to use or license to other companies.
Many Western companies have followed a similar idea to develop their chips. Apple or Google are among those that take advantage of the ARM architecture to create the chips that they then use in their products. It would not be surprising to see this also in ByteDance, although at the moment the project is in very early stages.
China’s technological independence
This move by ByteDance comes at a time that is far from the causal. China, in its recent fourteenth five-year plan, proclaimed its plans to become a technology leader. Among those plans is to boost China’s homegrown semiconductor industry. Currently, it is largely dependent on factories outside the country or designs from non-local companies. With the trade war with the United States, things are even more complicated.
China is the world’s largest buyer of semiconductors, and relying on others for this is not the best of ideas. This is where perhaps ByteDance has seen a business opportunity to jump on the semiconductor bandwagon, as is also being done by search engine Baidu or the giant Alibaba.