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South Korea aims to join AI race as startup Rebellions launches new chip

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South Korean startup Rebellions Inc launches an artificial intelligence (AI) chip on Monday, racing to win government contracts as Seoul seeks a place for local companies in the exploding AI industry. The company's ATOM chip is the latest Korean attempt to challenge global leader Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) in the hardware that powers the potentially revolutionary AI technology. AI is the talk of the tech world, as ChatGPT - a chatbot from Microsoft-backed (MSFT.O) OpenAI that generates articles, essays, jokes and even poetry - has become the fastest-growing consumer app in history just two months after launch, according to UBS. Nvidia, a US chip designer, has a commanding share of high-end AI chips, making up about 86% of the computing power of the world’s six biggest cloud services as of December, according to Jefferies chip analyst Mark Lipacis. The South Korean government wants to foster a domestic industry, investing more than $800 million over the next five years for research and development in a bid to lift the market share of Korean AI chips in domestic data centres from essentially zero to 80% by 2030. "It’s hard to catch up to Nvidia, which is so far ahead in general-purpose AI chips," said Kim Yang-Paeng, senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade. "But it's not set in stone because AI chips can carry out different functions and there aren't set boundaries or metrics." Rebellions' ATOM is designed to excel at running computer vision and chatbot AI applications. Because it targets specific tasks rather than doing a wide range, the chip consumes only about 20% of the power of an Nvidia A100 chip on those tasks, said Rebellions co-founder and chief executive Park Sunghyun. A100 is the most popular chip for AI workloads, powerful enough to create - in industry lingo, "train" - the AI models. ATOM, designed by Rebellions and manufactured by Korean giant Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS), does not do training. While countries such as Taiwan, China, France, Germany and the United States have extensive plans to support their semiconductor companies, the South Korean government is rare in singling out AI chips for a concentrated push. Seoul will put out a notice this month for two data centres, called neural processing unit farms, with only domestic chipmakers allowed to bid, an official at the Ministry of Science and ICT told Reuters. 'TWISTING ARMS' In a country whose firms supply half the world's memory chips, the authorities want to create a market that can be a test bed for AI chipmakers, aiming to foster global competitors. "The government is twisting the arm of the data centres and telling them, 'Hey, use these chips'," Rebellions' Park, a former Morgan Stanley engineer, told Reuters. Without such support, he said, data centres and their customers would likely stick with Nvidia chips. Sapeon Korea Inc also plans to participate in the project, the SK Telecom Co (017670.KS) subsidiary said. FuriosaAI, backed by South Korea's top search engine Naver Corp (035420.KS) and state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB.UL), told Reuters it will also bid. "There's a lot of momentum behind Nvidia's developments. These startups have got to build momentum, so that will take time," said Alan Priestley, an analyst at IT research firm Gartner. "But government incentives such as what's happening in Korea could well affect the market share within Korea." Rebellions will seek to participate in the government project in a consortium with KT Corp (030200.KS), a big Korean telecom, cloud and data centre operator, in the hopes of weaning Nvidia customers off the U.S. supplier. "Amid high dependence on foreign GPUs (graphics processing units) globally, the cooperation between KT and Rebellions will allow us to have an 'AI full stack' that encompasses software and hardware based on domestic technology,” said KT vice president Bae Han-chul. Rebellions declined to give a forecast for its AI chip venture. It has raised 122 billion won ($96 million), including 30 billion won from KT in a funding round joined by Singapore's Temasek Pavilion Capital and 10 billion won grant from the South Korean government.

South Korean startup Rebellions Inc launches an artificial intelligence (AI) chip on Monday, racing to win government contracts as Seoul seeks a place for local companies in the exploding AI industry.

The company’s ATOM chip is the latest Korean attempt to challenge global leader Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) in the hardware that powers the potentially revolutionary AI technology.

AI is the talk of the tech world, as ChatGPT – a chatbot from Microsoft-backed (MSFT.O) OpenAI that generates articles, essays, jokes and even poetry – has become the fastest-growing consumer app in history just two months after launch, according to UBS.

Nvidia, a US chip designer, has a commanding share of high-end AI chips, making up about 86% of the computing power of the world’s six biggest cloud services as of December, according to Jefferies chip analyst Mark Lipacis.

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The South Korean government wants to foster a domestic industry, investing more than $800 million over the next five years for research and development in a bid to lift the market share of Korean AI chips in domestic data centres from essentially zero to 80% by 2030.

“It’s hard to catch up to Nvidia, which is so far ahead in general-purpose AI chips,” said Kim Yang-Paeng, senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade. “But it’s not set in stone because AI chips can carry out different functions and there aren’t set boundaries or metrics.”

Rebellions’ ATOM is designed to excel at running computer vision and chatbot AI applications. Because it targets specific tasks rather than doing a wide range, the chip consumes only about 20% of the power of an Nvidia A100 chip on those tasks, said Rebellions co-founder and chief executive Park Sunghyun.

A100 is the most popular chip for AI workloads, powerful enough to create – in industry lingo, “train” – the AI models. ATOM, designed by Rebellions and manufactured by Korean giant Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS), does not do training.

While countries such as Taiwan, China, France, Germany and the United States have extensive plans to support their semiconductor companies, the South Korean government is rare in singling out AI chips for a concentrated push.

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Seoul will put out a notice this month for two data centres, called neural processing unit farms, with only domestic chipmakers allowed to bid, an official at the Ministry of Science and ICT told Reuters.

‘TWISTING ARMS’

In a country whose firms supply half the world’s memory chips, the authorities want to create a market that can be a test bed for AI chipmakers, aiming to foster global competitors.

“The government is twisting the arm of the data centres and telling them, ‘Hey, use these chips’,” Rebellions’ Park, a former Morgan Stanley engineer, told Reuters.

Without such support, he said, data centres and their customers would likely stick with Nvidia chips.

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Sapeon Korea Inc also plans to participate in the project, the SK Telecom Co (017670.KS) subsidiary said.

FuriosaAI, backed by South Korea’s top search engine Naver Corp (035420.KS) and state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB.UL), told Reuters it will also bid.

“There’s a lot of momentum behind Nvidia’s developments. These startups have got to build momentum, so that will take time,” said Alan Priestley, an analyst at IT research firm Gartner. “But government incentives such as what’s happening in Korea could well affect the market share within Korea.”

Rebellions will seek to participate in the government project in a consortium with KT Corp (030200.KS), a big Korean telecom, cloud and data centre operator, in the hopes of weaning Nvidia customers off the U.S. supplier.

“Amid high dependence on foreign GPUs (graphics processing units) globally, the cooperation between KT and Rebellions will allow us to have an ‘AI full stack’ that encompasses software and hardware based on domestic technology,” said KT vice president Bae Han-chul.

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Rebellions declined to give a forecast for its AI chip venture. It has raised 122 billion won ($96 million), including 30 billion won from KT in a funding round joined by Singapore’s Temasek Pavilion Capital and 10 billion won grant from the South Korean government.

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China launches Shenzhou-16 mission to Chinese space station

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China launches Shenzhou-16 mission to Chinese space station

 China sent three astronauts to its now fully operational space station as part of crew rotation on Tuesday in the fifth manned mission to the Chinese space outpost since 2021, state media reported.

The spacecraft, Shenzhou-16, or “Divine Vessel”, and its three passengers lifted off atop a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert in northwest China at 9:31 a.m. (0131 GMT).

The astronauts on Shenzhou-16 will replace the three-member crew of the Shenzhou-15, who arrived at the space station late in November.

The station, comprising three modules, was completed at the end of last year after 11 crewed and uncrewed missions since April 2021, beginning with the launch of the first and biggest module – the station’s main living quarters.

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China has already announced plans to expand its permanently inhabited space outpost, with the next module slated to dock with the current T-shaped space station to create a cross-shaped structure.

Leading the Shenzhou-16 mission was Jing Haipeng, 56, a senior spacecraft pilot from China’s first batch of astronaut trainees in the late 1990s. He had travelled to space three times before, including two trips as mission commander.

Jing flew with Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao, both 36 and part of China’s third batch of astronauts. The mission is Zhu’s and Gui’s first spaceflight.

Former military university professor Zhu will serve as spaceflight engineer while Gui, a professor at Beihang University, will serve as the payload specialist on the mission, managing science experiments at the space station.

Beijing is expected to launch one more crewed mission to the orbiting outpost this year.

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Also by the end of 2023, China is due to a launch space telescope the size of a large bus.

Known as Xuntian, or “Surveying the Heavens” in Chinese, the orbital telescope will boast a field of view 350 times wider than that of the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched 33 years ago.

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WhatsApp rolling out archive feature for businesses on Android

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WhatsApp rolling out archive feature for businesses on Android

 WhatsApp is going to launch a new feature called “status archive” as a new business tool that will help people to share their previous status updates with their customers.

The feature is currently being rolled out to beta testers of WhatsApp Business for Android and will become available to more users in the coming weeks, a media outlet that closely monitors the updates in the messaging app said in its blog.

The users will receive a notification within the Status tab asking them if they want to enable the feature on their WhatsApp accounts.

When this feature is enabled, the status updates will automatically be sent into archives on the users’ device after 24 hours. In addition, people can manage their archive preferences and see it directly from the menu within the Status tab.

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The feature will help businesses to re-share the previous status in an easy way.

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NASA sets coverage for Axiom Mission 2 departure from space station

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NASA sets coverage for Axiom Mission 2 departure from space station

NASA will provide live coverage of the undocking and departure of Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) private astronaut mission from the International Space Station before crew returns to Earth.

The four-member multinational astronaut crew is scheduled to undock no earlier than 11:05 a.m. EDT Tuesday, May 30, from the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module in a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to begin the journey home and splashdown off the coast of Florida.

NASA will begin live coverage of space station joint operations with Axiom Space and SpaceX, starting with hatch closure preparations at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 30, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Mission teams will monitor weather at the possible splashdown sites prior to undocking to ensure conditions are acceptable for a safe recovery of the spacecraft and Ax-2 astronauts.

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Ax-2 Commander Peggy Whitson, Pilot John Shoffner, and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, both representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will complete approximately nine days in space at the conclusion of their mission. Their SpaceX Dragon will return to Earth with more than 300 pounds of cargo, including NASA hardware and data from over 20 different experiments.

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