Chinese chipmaker launches 14nm AI processor that's 90% cheaper than GPUs — $140 chip's older node sidesteps US sanctions

Shot of the Intellifusion press conference where Intellifusion released its DeepEdge-powered AI boxes.
Shot of the Intellifusion press conference where Intellifusion released its DeepEdge-powered AI boxes. (Image credit: ICsmart.cn)

Aiming at the high-end hardware that dominates the AI market and has caused China-specific GPU bans by the US, Chinese manufacturer Intellifusion is introducing "DeepEyes" AI boxes with touted AI performance of 48 TOPS for 1000 yuan, or roughly $140. Using an older 14mn node and (most likely) an ASIC is another way for China to sidestep sanctions and remain competitive in the AI market.

The first "Deep Eyes" AI box for 2024 leverages a DeepEdge10Max SoC for 48 TOPS in int8 training performance. The 2024 H2 Deep Eyes box will use a DeepEdge10Pro with up to 24 TOPS, and finally, the 2025 H1 Deep Eyes box is aiming at a considerable performance boost with the DeepEdge10Ultra's rating of up to 96 TOPS. The pricing of these upcoming higher-end models is unclear. Still, if they can maintain the starting ~1000 yuan cost long-term, Intellifusion may achieve their goal of "90% cheaper AI hardware" that still "covers 90% of scenarios".

All of those above fully domestically-produced hardware leverages Intellifusion's custom NNP400T neural networking chip. Besides the other expected components of SoCs, this specialized (a 1.8 GHz 2+8 cores RISC CPU, GPU up to 800 MHz in DeepEdge 10), the effective NPU onboard makes this a pretty tasty option inside its market.

Photo of Intellifusion's DeepEdge10 chips. (Image credit: zhidx.com)

For your reference, to meet Microsoft's stated requirements of an "AI PC," modern PCs must have at least 40 TOPS of NPU performance. So, Intellifusion's immediate trajectory seems like it should soon be suitable for many AI workloads, especially considering most existing NPUs are only as fast as 16 TOPS. However, Snapdragon's X Elite chips are set to boast 40 TOPS alongside industry-leading iGPU performance later this year.

As Dr. Chen Ning, chairman of Intellifusion, posted, "In the next three years, 80% of companies around the world will use large models. [...] The cost of training a large model is in the tens of millions, and the price of mainstream all-in-one training and pushing machines is generally one million yuan. Most companies cannot afford such costs."

While the claim that 80% of companies worldwide will be leveraging AI seems...questionable at best, a fair point is being made here about the cost of entry for businesses to make meaningful use of AI, especially in creating their models. The DeepEdge chips use "independent and controllable domestic technology" and a RISC-V core to support extensive model training and inference deployment.

  • The Historical Fidelity
    So they are offering discrete boxes with the performance of a mainstream Intel or AMD cpu with an NPU. This is the product the world has ever seen lol
    Reply
  • Notton
    If this could be slapped onto a PCIe card, and used in a multi-card setup, I guess it wouldn't be bad?
    Reply
  • The Historical Fidelity
    Notton said:
    If this could be slapped onto a PCIe card, and used in a multi-card setup, I guess it wouldn't be bad?
    I guess yeah if you must have Microsoft Co-Pilot but don’t want to upgrade CPU’s you could plop one into your computer.
    Reply
  • PEnns
    "Chinese manufacturer Intellifusion is introducing "DeepEyes""

    Heh, the Chinese are publicizing the real names of Google, Fakebook and Microsoft!!
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Considering the term "AI" is used so generically that it can encompass anything that uses an algorithm, I think it's more than questionable that 80% of businesses will use "AI" and that more likely 100% of businesses will, since any business that tells "AI" to, say, "Examine last year's sales and revenue and generate charts and reports", something any business from an independent contractor to a Fortune 500 company will do, qualifies as "using AI".
    Reply
  • mistermcluvin
    Very interesting. As someone who is long in NVDA, I am always on the lookout on where their competition in the AI space will come from. Is AI like BTC mining where it started with multi purpose GPUs but will eventually end up in dedicated ASICs?
    Reply
  • The Historical Fidelity
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    Considering the term "AI" is used so generically that it can encompass anything that uses an algorithm, I think it's more than questionable that 80% of businesses will use "AI" and that more likely 100% of businesses will, since any business that tells "AI" to, say, "Examine last year's sales and revenue and generate charts and reports", something any business from an independent contractor to a Fortune 500 company will do, qualifies as "using AI".
    AI is so popular I’m surprised there is not a hip-hop artist named Algo-Rhythm
    Reply
  • RolandOlifant
    What's communist for "keep this the hell away from me"
    Reply
  • peachpuff
    RolandOlifant said:
    What's communist for "keep this the hell away from me"
    Tofu
    Reply
  • Findecanor
    The primary driver for AI in China is the PRC's surveillance machine.

    The primary driver for AI in the West is fear over China having invested so much in AI, but without understanding why.

    Otherwise it is gnomes collecting underpants all the way down.
    Reply