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Chip Maker Xilinx Sees Breakout Moment in AI

For most of Xilinx’s 34 years in existence, the company was a little-known provider of specialized chips, lacking the star power of Silicon Valley chip giants like Intel and Nvidia. Thanks to a surge in applications for artificial intelligence, though, Xilinx products are now making their way into hot new tech categories, from autonomous vehicles to data centers.      

One reason for the company’s rising profile is its new CEO, Victor Peng. In July, just seven months after he was appointed CEO, Mr. Peng announced one of the biggest acquisitions in the company’s history with the $300 million purchase of Deephi, a 200-person Chinese startup building AI applications for surveillance cameras and cloud computers. Meanwhile, Google is talking with Xilinx about integrating its chips into its data centers, said two people familiar with the talks. The company has a market capitalization of nearly $20 billion and its stock has outperformed Intel’s year to date, rising 8%. (Intel’s is down slightly during that period.)

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'It’s the adaptability and flexibility we have that is becoming more and more valuable, and more and more important,' said Xilinx CEO Victor Peng