Hyundai, Samsung invest in AI pioneer Tenstorrent

Hyundai, Samsung invest in AI pioneer Tenstorrent

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

AI processor pioneer Tenstorrent Inc. (Toronto, Canada) has closed a $100 million round of financing led by Hyundai Motor Group and Samsung Catalyst Fund. Fidelity Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, Epiq Capital, Maverick Capital and others also participated in the round.

The prominence of Hyundai and Samsung as strategic investors is likely to take Tenstorrent towards AI processing for edge, enterprise and embedded applications, complementing its initial focus on the datacenter.

Hyundai Motor Group has said that it is making a US$50 million investment in Tenstorrent to accelerate the design and development of AI chiplets and machine-learning software for use in Hyundai, Kia and Genesis vehicles.

The latest funding is described as an “up-round” implying that investors value the company more highly than at its previous Series C round. The Series C of more than US$200 million was announced in May 2021 when it was claimed the company had a valuation of more than US$1 billion.

However, the company now has approaching 350 employees and a broad road map of RISC-V and AI processing cores giving it a high burn rate for funds.


Tenstorrent was founded in 2016 by Ljubisa Bajic and then recruited veteran CPU designer Jim Keller as CTO in 2021. Keller became CEO at the beginning of 2023. The company has a road ‘full-stack’ business model that includes licensing intellectual property, selling chiplets, chiplet-based components, accelerator cards and even fully configured servers. The company has its Greyskull AI processor and Ascalon RISC-V processor available and a roadmap going forward that includes Quasar and Grendel due to arrive in 2024 that make use of 4nm and 3nm manufacturing process nodes.

“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 in a statement.

Hyundai issued its own statement saying it expects to make use of Tenstorrent’s technology to jointly develop optimized central processing units (CPU) and neural processing units (NPU) for future vehicles.

Heung-soo Kim, executive vice president and head of the Global Strategy Office (GSO) at Hyundai Motor Group, said: “With this investment, the Group expects to develop optimized but differentiated semiconductor technology that will aid future mobilities and strengthen internal capabilities in AI technology development.”

Speaking of Samsung’s investment in Tenstorrent Marco Chisari, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics and head of Samsung’s Semiconductor Innovation Center, said: “Samsung Catalyst Fund invests in disruptive ideas that we believe can change the world. Tenstorrent’s industry-leading technology, executive leadership, and aggressive roadmap motivated us to co-lead this funding round.”

The Samsung Catalyst Fund is a multi-stage venture capital fund spans multiple domains including datacenter and cloud, artificial intelligence, networking and 5G, automotive, sensors, quantum computing and beyond.

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