Blacklisted Chinese GPU developer secures $280 million in funding - Biren gets cash infusion from Guangzhou government-backed investors

Biren Technology
(Image credit: Biren Technology)

Biren Technology, a Chinese AI GPU designer, has recently obtained an investment of ¥2 billion (approximately $280 million USD) from investors backed by the Guangzhou government, reports Bloomberg. This investment follows the company's inclusion into the U.S. government's Entity List over a year ago and layoffs to cut costs. With $280 million, the company has enough funds for ongoing operations. 

Biren is also negotiating with Hong Kong for additional financing and is contemplating establishing a regional presence. Now that Chinese companies cannot obtain high-performance AI processors from overseas companies, domestic developers like Biren have a chance to thrive as demand for their chips from Chinese cloud service providers and enterprises is almost guaranteed. Therefore, the company will likely continue receiving money from Chinese investors. In fact, earlier this year, Biren considered listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The addition of Biren to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Entity List posed significant challenges to the company, limiting Biren's access to TSMC's leading-edge process technologies. Biren's key challenge is ensuring a steady supply of its AI GPUs, possibly from China-based fab SMIC. To do so, Biren has to redesign its BR104 ASIC for SMIC's 2nd generation 7nm-class process technology or develop a new chip from scratch. Meanwhile, whether a Biren ASIC made by SMIC will be as competitive as its BR104 made by TSMC remains to be seen.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Biren BR104Biren BR100Nvidia A100Nvidia H100
Form-FactorFHFL CardOAM ModuleSXM4SXM5
Transistor Count?77 billion54.2 billion80 billion
FP32 TFLOPS12825619.560
TF32+ TFLOPS256512??
TF32 TFLOPS??156/312*500/1000*
FP16 TFLOPS??78120
FP16 TFLOPS Tensor??312/624*1000/2000*
BF16 TFLOPS512102439120
BF16 TFLOPS Tensor??312/624*1000/2000*
INT8 TFLOPS Tensor??624/1248*2000/4000*

The context of Biren's funding and expansion efforts is a larger shift in the Chinese technology sector. Major firms like Baidu are pivoting towards domestic AI chip providers in response to increasing U.S. restrictions on China's access to state-of-the-art semiconductor technology. 

Biren is not alone in getting additional funds from Chinese investors in light of the U.S. crackdown on China's semiconductor industry in general and AI and HPC processors in particular. Other blacklisted Chinese startups, such as Moore Threads, are also gaining traction and investments, according to Bloomberg.

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.

  • purpleduggy
    Hoping that China sees the urgency with which they should fund Chinese GPU R&D as well as cutting edge semiconductor manufacturing R&D. its probably the most important manufacturing sector. All countries should push for this if they want to take part in the future. Or don't and get left behind.
  • L0rdrobot
    I can assure this, that the US blocking tech sales to the largest buyer is akin to kneecapping Nancy Kerrigan. If you think you can kneecap the Chinese you will lose. While some celebrate the temporary bashing of China, China is now being forcibly developing their own technologies and doing very well at it.

    The US Semiconductor business has a GDP of just 2.3%. The working model for semiconductor sales is akin to selling bananas in the desert out of a broken refrigeration car. The shelf life is nil. And if you can't sell to the Biggest Customer, your rotting bananas sit on the shelf.

    With the exception of Nvidia, US Semiconductor companies have been severely damaged by the US Gov. China leads in 34 of 41 global core technologies. And is very close in the other 7 categories where the US currently leads. Stopping China is like trying to stop a freight train with your body.

    China makes there own ion implanters and the only ingredient lacking at this point is ASML's EUV. I cannot comprehend how Samsung and TSMC expect to stay in business when the US has plans, albeit, silly plans to build some 20 Fab plants which cannot be cost effective in the US labour markets. The best estimates are a 50% increase in chip costs. And why would a fabless house bring its designs to Samsung fab, or Intel FAB? Makes no sense at all. The blockade of narrowgated chips sales and manufacturing hardware only benefits the US not Europe and most certainly not Asia. The US, the supposedly great ally of Taiwan, has let it leak that they would bomb TSMC to prevent Mainland China from taking it. The US has gone utterly mad.

    The CEO of ASML has stated very clearly that the Chinese will in fact develop their own EUV machines and when they do, they will compete globally. Boycotts against China are a strong incentive to do this.

    But but but NATIONAL SECURITY... think about this. If China Builds its own chips. How will anyone know what is in them. Let's not forget that only China has landed a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. The US blocks all space technology from China. Yet the Chinese space station has Ion engines.

    China is catching up... the Loongson's 3A5000, is impressive and there are others. The Biren 100 and 104 are somewhat unknown but China's commitment to AI is unassailable. The only ones making any real forward process in all this Nancy Kerrigan Kneecapping foreign policy is China.