Chinese GPU Developer Poaches New VP From Nvidia

(Image credit: Biren Technology)

The intensifying competition among the leading Silicon Valley-based companies in the recent years lead to poaching well-known specialists as well as high-profile hires. But poaching happens not only in the U.S. Biren Technology, a developer of AI GPUs from China, has hired Yang Chaoyuan, who previously led Nvidia's R&D operations in Shanghai, China.

Biren was established in 2019 in a bid to develop a GPU tailored specifically for AI workloads, such as training and inference. Designing a general-purpose GPU to address artificial intelligence and other emerging workloads is easier than developing an actual graphics processor for gamers since it doesn't require a very efficient memory subsystem or complex drivers, so there are multiple startups working on various AI accelerators these days.

Biren reportedly planned to tape out its first chip using a 7nm process technology last year, though we do not know whether it actually taped out the processor. In order to significantly boost its future research and developing capabilities, Biren this week hired Yang Chaoyuan, the former general manager of Nvidia Shanghai, who has vast experience in GPU development. Yang Chaoyuan graduated from the University of California and brings Biren over 35 years of experience at companies like Nvidia and TSMC. Among his achievements is establishing Nvidia's first R&D center outside of the USA as well as his work in TSMC's R&D arm.

At Biren, Yang Chaoyuan will serve as vice president as well as special assistant to the chairman, which looks like an important position. While he's not going to lead R&D at Biren, as an assistant to the chairman he might have an influence on strategic development of the company. Yang Chaoyuan is an important hire for Biren, but Biren's major challenge today might not be the absence of high-profile managers of engineers, but rather sufficient funding. Modern chips are notoriously expensive to design and these costs are only going to increase in the coming years.

Biren Technology received $170 million in Series A funding in 2020, which is a lot of money. However, the development and implementation of a moderately complex FinFET-based 7nm chip costs around $300 million. Whether Biren can manage to create a competitive product remains the question.

Anton Shilov
Contributing Writer

Anton Shilov is a contributing writer at Tom’s Hardware. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.