Send to

SK Telecom CEO shows confidence in AI-centered growth strategy

SK touts more than 200 AI technologies, including new chip X330

Nov. 16, 2023 - 15:33 By Jie Ye-eun
SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang delivers an opening speech at the SK Tech Summit 2023 in Seoul on Thursday. (SK Telecom)

SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang, who also leads SK Group's ICT committee, said Thursday he is confident about seizing new business opportunities as the rise of generative artificial intelligence reshapes industries.

“Even before the black swan event of the emergence of (Chat)GPT last year, SK Group has been accumulating its capabilities in AI and new technologies as we (feel sure) about the growth of (such) innovation,” Ryu said in his opening speech at this year’s SK Tech Summit at Coex in southern Seoul.

While introducing SK Telecom’s “AI pyramid strategy” introduced in September, which focuses on three key areas -- AI infrastructure, AI transformation and AI service -- to realize the “global AI firm,” Ryu lauded SK’s vision and confidence in AI-based future growth led by the telecom giant.

Ryu vowed to create greater synergies “separately and together” with the group’s affiliates and key global partners -- Anthropic, Amazon Web Services and Google -- as well as with the member companies of the SK Telecom-led K-AI Alliance to cultivate a comprehensive AI ecosystem.

Under the theme of “AI Everywhere for a Better Future,” this year’s tech conference took place on its largest-ever scale since the inaugural event in 2016. A total of 17 SK affiliates, including SK Telecom, prepared sessions for the two-day event. Over 60 percent of the exhibition booths and presentations were related to AI technology, and around 9,600 attendees preregistered to attend the event, Ryu explained.

During his 10-minute opening speech, the telecom giant’s chief used the word “AI” around 50 times, while mentioning “SK” about 20 times to highlight how sincere and important SK considers the technology.

Anticipating a rosy outlook for the AI industry, Ryu said SK is making the utmost effort to reorganize its growth strategy to be centered on AI as it looks to do more than simply respond to the rapidly changing industry environment. “The future is up to exploration, not prediction. … SK is becoming a frontier that proactively pioneers the future,” he said.

“SK will strive to actively solve various issues and difficulties society faces through ‘people-centered AI,” the CEO said. “At this year’s event, we hope you will be able to experience the present and future that SK is creating through AI.”

At the conference, four keynote speakers -- Chung Suk-geun, chief AI global officer of SK Telecom; Jared Kaplan, Anthropic CSO; Slavik Dimitrovich, head of specialist solutions architecture of AI/ML at AWS; and Warren Barkley, senior director of product management at Google -- shared their visions and business experiences using generative AI.

Sapeon's latest AI chip, X330 (Sapeon)

Sapeon, a global AI semiconductor company that spun out from SK Telecom in April 2022, unveiled its latest AI chip, X330, for the first time, at Thursday’s event.

The X330 neural processing unit targets data centers, boasting a performance level over four times greater and has twice the power efficiency of the company’s previous AI chip, the X220, which was rolled out in November 2020. Without mentioning a specific name, the company said the X330 also has 1.3 times greater power efficiency than a competitor’s 5-nanometer product that was launched earlier this year.

The X330 is an inference AI chip primarily used for implementing AI services based on learning data. It achieved large language model implementation based on transformer architecture, which is the original technology underpinning ChatGPT.

The AI chipmaker aims to start mass producing the latest chips in a 7-nanometer process next year at Taiwan’s TSMC in the first half of 2024.

A day ahead of the annual summit, Sapeon CEO Ryu Soo-jung told reporters that the company will strengthen its cooperation with SK Telecom to actively seek new opportunities with its AI chips. Sapeon has set its eye on introducing intellectual property for chips in autonomous driving cars and AI neural processing units for high-performance edge devices.

“We are making considerable efforts to enter the global market. By starting our journey with the AI processor, X330, today, we aim to realize more convenient daily lives for our users in the era of AI being everywhere,” the Sapeon chief said.