• Hyundai Motor Group and Samsung Catalyst Fund make a $100M strategic investment in AI chip maker firm Tenstorrent, to integrate its AI technology into their tech.
  • The objective is to accelerate Tenstorrent’s design, development of AI chiplets, and its machine-learning software roadmap.
  • Tenstorrent’s high-performance semiconductor experience will be leveraged by the investing parties while strengthening internalisation of its own technological capabilities.

A mutually benefited investment makes for a great venture because their intent is to secure influence and gain access to advanced technology. Canadian startup Tenstorrent has managed to secure $100 million in funding from big names like Hyundai Motor Group and Samsung Catalyst Fund, among other investors, opposite Nvidia Corporation‘s dominance in supplying chips for artificial intelligence products like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

The Funding Breakdown

Tenstorrent, the startup, led by former Tesla employee Jim Keller, has raised $234.5 million to date and is currently valued at around $1 billion. Both Hyundai Motor Group and Samsung have a strong history of product leadership and enjoy massive success in their respective markets.  In their latest round of funding, Tenstorrent raised $30 million from Hyundai, $20 million from Kia and $50 million from Samsung’s Catalyst Fund along with other investors like Fidelity Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, Epiq Capital and Maverick Capital etc, reported Reuters. The recently secured funding is structured in the form of debt that would later be converted into equity. Essentially, this means that the chip maker will have to hold another round of equity funding to get the new valuation.

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Tenstorrent CEO Jim Keller with Heung-soo Kim, Executive Vice President and Head of the Global Strategy Office (GSO) at Hyundai Motor Group.

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The Interested Parties

It takes a massive amount of funding and authentic partnerships to execute such a grand vision, and Tenstorrent is currently enjoying an over-subscribed funding round. These new partner investors also bring industry-specific expertise and networks to the table, which can be invaluable in helping the company navigate through challenges and seize opportunities.

Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Group is a global enterprise that has created a value chain based on mobility, steel, and construction, as well as logistics, finance, IT, and service. The Group’s mobility brands include Hyundai, Kia and Genesis. They recently established the Semiconductor Development Group. Armed with creative thinking and cooperative communication, the Group plans to make use of Tenstorrent’s high-performance AI technologies to jointly develop optimised semiconductors. That will be applied to central processing units (CPU) and neural processing units (NPU) for future vehicles and mobility solutions, including robotics and advanced air mobility (AAM). They plan to achieve this through strategic collaborations with various external partners.

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Tenstorrent’s high growth potential and high-performance AI semiconductors will help the Group secure competitive technologies for future mobilities,” said Heung-soo Kim, Executive Vice President and Head of the Global Strategy Office (GSO) at Hyundai Motor Group. By working with the Group, Tenstorrent aims to enter the automotive sector based on its AI semiconductor core intellectual property (IP) competitiveness, a cadre of semiconductor experts and robust development direction.

Samsung Catalyst Fund (SCF)

SCF is Samsung Electronics‘ evergreen multi-stage venture capital fund that invests in deep-tech infrastructure and data-enabled platforms. SCF’s sectors of interest span multiple domains including data center and cloud, artificial intelligence, networking and 5G, automotive, sensors, quantum computing and beyond. They aspire to work closely with brilliant entrepreneurs and disruptive ideas while harnessing their global reach to create value and foster mutual growth and benefits.

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Samsung Catalyst Fund invests in disruptive ideas that we believe can change the world,” said Marco Chisari, EVP of Samsung Electronics, Head of Samsung Semiconductor Innovation Center. “Tenstorrent’s industry-leading technology, executive leadership, and aggressive roadmap motivated us to co-lead this funding round. We are excited by the opportunity to work with Tenstorrent to accelerate AI and compute innovations.”


Founded in 2016, Tenstorrent is a next-generation computing company that makes its own AI chips while also selling its intellectual property and other technology to help customers build their own AI chips. They bring together experts in the field of computer architecture, ASIC design, advanced systems, and neural network compilers. Tenstorrent aims to create efficient and high-performance hardware solutions that enable deep learning at scale.

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The Canadian-based firm, Tenstorrent began as just another AI chip company, until Jim Keller cemented the firm’s strategy to provide a wide range of advanced computing IP and products, from AI accelerator to RISC-V IP and products. In addition to challenging Nvidia in the data center, Tenstorrent is also working on other uses for AI chips, such as the deal announced in May with another Korean company, LG, where the company will make chips that could be used in smart TVs.

Nvidia Corporation

Nvidia Corporation is a software company which designs graphics processing units (GPUs), application programming interface (APIs) for data science and high-performance computing. They also create system on a chip units (SoCs) for the mobile computing and automotive market. Nvidia is a dominant supplier of artificial intelligence hardware and software. Its professional line of GPUs are used in workstations for applications in fields like architecture, engineering and construction, media and entertainment, automotive, scientific research, and manufacturing design. Nvidia makes for tough competition but with Tenstorrent getting the funding it needed, the AI chip making firm is set to gain hold of this market.

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Jim Keller

Tenstorrent’s CEO Jim Keller is a renowned figure in the semiconductor industry with an extensive background in chip design and architecture. Having worked at several prominent technology companies, he is widely recognised for his contributions to the development of microprocessors and his expertise in CPU and system architecture design. Jim has previously made chips for companies like Apple, Tesla, and Intel. His reign at Tenstorrent marks a return to the car technology sector.

The trust in Tenstorrent shown by Hyundai Motor Group leading our round is truly humbling. It has been impressive watching Hyundai Motor Group become the third largest automaker in the world through their aggressive adoption of technology including their acquisition of Boston Dynamics, their joint venture with Aptiv, and now their investment in us” said Keller. “Samsung has long been a leader in the electronics industry and they are the ideal partner to co-lead this round” he said.

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This could also be the beginning of a new era in the AI semiconductor industry. Instead of buying off-your-shelf standalone accelerator chips designed to compete with NVIDIA, large conglomerates are heading down a different road. LG, Hyundai and Samsung as well are licensing SOTA IP from Tenstorrent and then building their own bespoke hardware solution for a specific use case given how chiplets are enabling high performance, domain-specific security operations center (SOC).