Sky9 Capital-Backed CIX Startup Wins Over $16M in Angel++
Returning investors completed the company’s R&D plans for ARM processors, which opened up a new market for chipmakers around the world
Chinese smart computing solution provider CIX Technology (Chinese: 此芯科技) closed its angel++ funding round worth more than CNY 100 million (USD 15.6 million) on April 20.
The lead investor is Shunwei Capital, joined by existing backers Sky9 Capital and Qiming Venture Partners.
The proceeds will be used to accelerate CIX’s product R&D and market expansion, similar to the previous two rounds of angel investors, according to a company statement.
Sky9 Capital has been pouring money into the deal since CIX’s angel+ round. “The ARM processor, also at the center of CIX’s R&D plan, shows unexpected possibilities in its performance. Compared to traditional X86 chips, ARM processors are better customized, more controllable and more cost-effective because the ecosystem-supported structure is less dependent on outside technical support from monopolistic processor vendors,” said Davy Shen, Executive Director of Sky9. Capital, at EqualOcean.
The dominance of X86 chips, led by chip giants including Intel and AMD, was shaken up when Apple released its M1 microprocessor in November 2020.
This innovation has exceeded industry expectations as it can power smart gadgets for longer, with less performance loss, paving the way for a richer application ecosystem on devices.
Apple for example announced at the launch of the M1 that it would equip its tablets and phones with this new generation chip.
The ARM framework has since been adopted by top companies around the world, including Apple, Qualcomm, Ampere, Amazon, Google, and Alibaba. “Sky9 Capital also sees ARM as a promising market, and CIX Technology has a professional team in this area.”
The Shanghai-based startup, founded in October 2021 by senior members of global semiconductor and IT companies, aims to create ARM-compatible computing solutions with CPU SoC design, software and system design technologies. . The company focuses on the application of ARM chips in multiple scenarios, including laptops, high-end tablets, desktops, and AR/VR/XR.
“We expect CIX to become a leader in this segment,” Shen said. “Whether or not this succeeds depends on an ecosystem, where the best players combine their efforts to create something together.”
Many rookie players have become the beneficiaries of China’s huge investment in the semiconductor and component industry. Another biochip developer Onechip Bioelectronics (Chinese: 万众一芯) on Tuesday announced the completion of its CNY 150 million Series B+ funding round, led by Qiming Venture Partners. Other investors included Matrix Partners and Desheng Fund.
Shen also believes that the ARM chip manufacturing that CIX is engaged in has a higher barrier to entry, which means that new entrants are few and existing players are all obsessed with R&D and releasing their first prototype. “Competition in ARM is mostly about technology or who ‘gets there’ first, rather than cost. In other words, ARM is still a blue sea market,” Shen said.
“Currently, the smart chip industry is still embryonic. Sky9 has backed companies in this market, including national AI chip company Biren Technology (Chinese: 壁仞科技) and DPU developer YunSilicon (Chinese: 云脉芯联). The market is attracting more and more players with cutting-edge products,” Shen observed.
The seasoned investor with seven years of venture capital experience expressed his willingness to continue supporting CIX Technology in the future. “ARM is an unstoppable trend, and it’s up to big business to realize its possibilities,” he noted.