South Korean AI startup Sapeon has announced the release of its X330 neural processing unit (NPU) designed to support large language models (LLMs). 

The startup is backed by South Korean telecom company SK Group and specialises in semiconductor technology. 

Sapeon stated that the X330 NPU will be ready for mass production as soon as the first half of 2024 and said the chip has “roughly twice the computational performance and 1.3 times better power efficiency” than its competitors.

In its statement on the release, Sapeon did not specify which competitors this performance was measured against. 

Sapeon’s main competitor in the AI chip market is NVIDIA, considered a leader in the technology. 

On the announcement, Sapeon CEO Ryu Soojung said: “We started a new journey today with X330, the best AI processor for inference… We will develop Sapeon into a company that shares a convenient life with AI.” 

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Research company GlobalData forecasts that AI chips will continue to be a substantial part of the global AI market, having already reached a market value of $600bn in 2023. 

The market is dominated by countries in Asia Pacific, like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. This continent alone accounts for $371bn of the total market. 

Sapeon also announced plans to further cooperate with SK Group to create AI software to protect telecom customers against phishing and spam threats.