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'Wean itself off Nvidia': Samsung signs $750 million agreement with South Korea's largest online platform — Naver wants to replace Nvidia's super expensive AI GPU with the more affordable Mach-1 chip

 A person holding out their hand with a digital AI symbol.
A person holding out their hand with a digital AI symbol.

In a move to cut its dependency on Nvidia's high-cost AI chips, Naver, the South Korean equivalent of Google, has signed a 1 trillion won ($750 million) agreement with Samsung.

The deal will see the tech giant supply its more affordable Mach-1 chips to Naver, by the end of 2024.

The Mach-1 chip, currently under development, is an AI accelerator in the form of a SoC that combines Samsung’s proprietary processors and low-power DRAM chips to reduce the bottleneck between the GPU and HBM.

Just the start

The announcement of the Mach-1 was made during Samsung’s 55th regular shareholders' meeting. Kye Hyun Kyung, CEO of Samsung Semiconductor, said the chip design had passed technological validation on FPGAs and that finalization of SoC was in progress.

The exact volume of Mach-1 chips to be supplied and prices are still under discussion, but The Korea Economic Daily reports that Samsung intends to price the Mach-1 AI chip at around $3,756 each. The order is expected to be for somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 units.

Naver plans to use Samsung’s Mach-1 chips to power servers for its AI map service, Naver Place. According to The Korea Economic Daily, Naver will order further Mach-1 chips if the initial batch performs as well as hoped.

Samsung sees this deal with Naver as just the start. The tech giant is reportedly in supply talks with Microsoft and Meta Platforms who, like Naver, are actively seeking to reduce their reliance on Nvidia’s AI hardware.

With the Naver deal, Samsung is also looking to better compete with its South Korean rival SK Hynix, which is the dominant player in the advanced HBM segment. Samsung has been heavily investing in HBM recently and at the start of March announced the industry's first 12-stack HBM3E 12H DRAM. This reportedly outperforms Micron's 24GB 8H HBM3E in terms of capacity and bandwidth and is expected to begin shipping in Q2 this year.

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