The former Xilinx Labs Asia-Pacific director and CTO joined this month as chief expert and assistant vice president.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

Nio has tapped a veteran chip expert as an executive, a sign that it may start to ramp up its efforts on its own chip development.

Former Xilinx Labs Asia-Pacific director and CTO Hu Chengchen joined Nio this month as the chief expert and assistant vice president, local media Tech Planet reported today.

Hu's joining Nio in a key position illustrates Nio's thirst for relevant technologies, the report said, adding that his addition could bring new momentum to Nio's chip development efforts.

Hu received his PhD in computer science and technology from Tsinghua University in 2008, and has since been a longtime faculty member at Xi'an Jiaotong University, where he served as head of the computer science department. His main research interests are data center and network big data.

He started as director and CTO of Xilinx Labs Asia-Pacific in 2017. Now, he joins Nio as the chief expert and head of the technology planning department, according to the report.

CnEVPost checked Hu's profile in the knowledge sharing community Zhihu and found that he has updated his latest position as Nio's chief expert, assistant vice president.

(Hu's Zhihu profile. Highlight ours.)

This is Nio's latest effort in acquiring senior chip talents.

Last November, Bai Jian, former OPPO hardware director and general manager of 's chip business, joined Nio as vice president of hardware, reporting to Nio founder and chairman William Li.

Bai graduated from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications with a PhD in cryptography and communications engineering.

Prior to Bai, Ren Shaoqing, former director of R&D at Momenta, joined Nio in August 2020 as assistant vice president, reporting directly to Li.

At the end of October last year, local media reported that Nio planned to develop its own self-driving chips and set up a separate hardware team called "Smart HW (Hardware)".

Li has been looking for a technical leader with a Silicon Valley background to prepare for its own chip development program, the reports said.

Nio had deployed autonomous driving R&D teams in China and the US to develop algorithmic capabilities for L2-level autonomous driving and to work on L4-level autonomous driving technology.

However, with increased funding pressure, Nio has made several layoffs in the North American team in 2019. Jamie Carlson, the original VP of autonomous driving based at Nio North America, left in June 2020.

Today Nio is in a far better position than it was two years ago, with a huge amount of cash on hand, so restarting investment in chip R&D is possible.