(Yicai Global) April 20 -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has bought a Chinese integrated circuit design company to hasten the development of domestic-made chips against the backdrop of a US ban on exports of core semiconductors to telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corp.
China’s biggest e-commerce company acquired all the shares of C-SKY Microsystems Co., Hangzhou-based Alibaba said today, without revealing the deal’s financial details. The purchase will help Alibaba to further develop its cloud-based Internet of Things business.
“The acquisition of C-SKY marks an important step for Alibaba’s move into chip technology,” said Zhang Jianfeng, Alibaba’s chief technology officer.
News of the deal comes just days after Yicai Global learned that Alibaba research institution DAMO Academy is developing a neural network chip that will be used in artificial intelligence. It also comes amid a trade spat with the United States that saw the US this week ban Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corp. from accessing American technology for seven years, a move that has led many in China to call for the country to speed up plans to develop and patent its own chip technologies.
Alibaba is still a newcomer to the industry, but its DAMO Academy has a chip tech team conducting independent R&D of AI chips. Alibaba has also invested in the semiconductor companies Cambricon Technologies Co., Barefoot Networks Inc., DeePhi Tech Co., Kneron Inc., and ASR Microelectronics Shanghai Co.
Through the C-SKY deal, Alibaba will be able to integrate its research and development at a higher level and try to achieve breakthroughs in the core technology capabilities of the chips, insiders noted.
C-SKY Microsystems is an integrated circuit design company with 32-bit high-performance low-power embedded central processing units and chip architecture authorization as its core business, public information shows. C-SKY provides highly cost-effective and customized CPU IP cores and related SOC design and development platforms, software tool chains, and integrated development environments for customers in the Internet of Things segments of multimedia, security, home, transport and smart cities.
Hangzhou-based C-SKY is also the only domestic central processing unit vendor that develops embedded CPU based on autonomous instruction architecture and can mass produce the product.
The US commerce department on April 16 imposed an export ban on ZTE Corp., over breach of a settlement agreement the two reached after the latter pled guilty to illegal sales to Iran and North Korea. US companies may not sell communications equipment and components -- including chips -- to ZTE for the period of the export denial order.
Editor: Ben Armour