Etched Raises $120 Million to Propel Specialized AI Chip Innovation

AI Image

In a significant development for the AI hardware industry, San Francisco-based startup Etched has raised $120 million in a series-A funding round. This capital injection will be pivotal for the company’s mission to create specialized processors tailored for AI models used by prominent platforms like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google Gemini.

The Rise of Etched and Its Unique Approach

Etched’s innovative approach involves designing chips specifically optimized for AI model inference, particularly focusing on transformer models. These models are critical for generating content and responses, which are central to many AI applications today. Unlike general-purpose AI chips from industry giants like Nvidia, Etched’s specialized processors promise greater efficiency and performance for specific AI tasks.

Nvidia currently dominates the AI chip market, holding around 80% of sales. However, their general-purpose chips can be less energy-efficient compared to processors designed for particular functions. This is where Etched aims to carve out its niche, potentially offering a more sustainable and powerful alternative for specific AI applications.

Strategic Partnerships and Expert Backing

The funding round attracted notable investors, including former PayPal CEO Peter Thiel and Replit CEO Amjad Masad. These endorsements underscore the confidence in Etched’s vision and its potential to disrupt the AI hardware landscape.

Etched is partnering with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to fabricate its chips. The series-A funding will help cover the substantial costs associated with sending chip designs to TSMC and commencing the manufacturing process, known as “taping out.”

Gavin Uberti, CEO of Etched, acknowledges the high stakes involved: “This company is a little bit of a bet. If transformers go away, our company will die. But if they stick around, we’re going to be one of the biggest companies of all time.”

The Strategic Importance of TSMC

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (NYSE: TSM) is a critical player in the semiconductor industry, especially within the AI sector. TSMC holds over 50% of the market share for chip fabrication, producing advanced chips for major tech companies like Apple, Qualcomm, and Nvidia. Despite concerns over geopolitical tensions between China and Taiwan, analysts like Barclays’ Venu Krishna and Bank of America’s Brad Lin highlight TSMC’s pivotal role in the AI boom.

TSMC’s advanced manufacturing capabilities, including 2nm and 3nm nodes, make it an indispensable partner for cutting-edge AI development. Brad Lin recently increased his price target for TSMC to $180, emphasizing the company’s crucial position as an enabler of AI advancements. He cited TSMC’s significant revenue from Apple and its expected growth due to increasing demand for AI chips.

Broader Market Implications

The AI semiconductor market is undergoing a transformative period, with big tech funds heavily investing in AI-focused companies. Steve Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management, for instance, plans to raise around $1 billion for a new AI-focused hedge fund. This fund will bet on and against companies within the AI hardware and semiconductor industries, reflecting the high stakes and immense potential in this sector.

Investors are increasingly concentrating their portfolios on AI stocks, driven by the outsized returns from leading AI companies. This trend underscores the strategic importance of innovative startups like Etched, which are well-positioned to capitalize on the evolving needs of the AI industry.


Etched’s $120 million funding round marks a significant milestone in its journey to develop specialized AI chips. With strong backing from influential investors and a strategic partnership with TSMC, Etched is poised to make a substantial impact on the AI hardware market. As the AI revolution continues to accelerate, companies like Etched and TSMC will be at the forefront, driving innovation and shaping the future of technology.

For those looking to invest in the burgeoning AI sector, Etched represents a promising opportunity with its unique approach and strategic positioning. As AI continues to transform industries, the companies that lead in specialized hardware development will likely see substantial growth and returns.

by Steve Macalbry

Senior Editor,


The author is not a licensed financial advisor. This article is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered financial or investment advice. We do not hold any form of equity in the securities mentioned in this article. Always consult with a certified financial professional before making any financial decisions. Growth stocks carry a high degree of risk, and you could lose your entire investment.

Best Growth Stocks

Learn More →