Iluvatar CoreX, a high-performance computing solutions provider in China, has garnered 1.2 billion yuan ($185.6 million) in a Series C round of financing jointly led by global investment firm Cedarlake Capital and Chinese private equity (PE) major Centurium Capital.
Gortune Investment, a privately-run investment platform in southern China’s Guangzhou City, and China Unicom Capital, affiliated with state-owned telecom operator China Unicom also participated in the deal, the startup announced in a statement on Monday.
With the new investment, Iluvatar CoreX has joined a string of domestic startups in the semiconductor field to receive capital from PE-VC investors. Players in the sector are gaining more traction in China — the world’s largest importer of semiconductor products — following Beijing’s efforts to achieve self-reliance in chips amid a tech race with the US.
A few days earlier, Moore Threads, a nascent startup that develops central processing units (CPUs), announced its entry into the unicorn club with a valuation of at least $1 billion — less than half a year after its inception in October 2020. 5G-based Internet of Things (IoT) chipmaker Cygnus Semiconductor, also established last October, secured nearly 400 million yuan in a pre-Series A round.
Horizon Robotics, a Beijing-based AI chip designer, gathered $350 million in a Series C3 round in February. The deal brought the total capital raised by Horizon in its Series C stage to $900 million, higher than its initial target of $700 million. MEMSIC Semiconductor, which develops semiconductor sensors for clients like Google and Samsung, also announced in January the completion of a Series A round at over 1 billion yuan.
Founded in December 2015, Iluvatar CoreX is a developer of high-performance computing solutions including System-on-a-Chip (SOC) chipsets, which integrate all or most components of a computer or other electronic system into integrated circuits (ICs), as well as their proprietary software platform.
Led by a group of semiconductor and software experts from Silicon Valley and China, the startup initiated the design and development of 7-nanometre general-purpose cloud computing SOC solution (GP-GPU) in 2018, and proved the usability of its first GP-GPU product last December.
It claims that the GP-GPU (general-purpose computing on graphics processing units) product, named “Big Island” or “BI,” can offer more powerful programming capabilities than most mainstream products currently available in the market, especially in powering artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled applications in sectors like finance, education, healthcare, and smart transportation.
With offices across Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, and Nanjing, the startup currently has a team comprising over 85% of R&D professionals, according to its website.
The fresh capital will help the startup further expand its investment in core technological R&D and speed up product commercialisation. Iluvatar CoreX plans to advance its strengths in developing computing solutions for 5G and AI.
Prior to the Series C round, Iluvatar CoreX has completed two funding rounds, including a Series B round in 2019 and a Series A round in 2017.
It raised “hundreds of millions of yuan” in a Series B round co-led by Centurium and US investment firm Princeville Capital. Financial details of its Series A round remained undisclosed.