Start-up secures $30 million funding to rival Intel and Nvidia on AI development

UK-based start-up Graphcore raises funds to work on AI application chips

A UK start-up has raised $30 million in funding from VCs to develop AI applications and processors.

Graphcore hopes to make machine learning faster and easier, by reducing the cost of faster AI applications in the cloud and bringing AI to consumer devices.

It said in a blog post that the Series A funding round will enable it to "innovate faster and execute at scale with backing from some of the biggest names in the technology industry".

The company said it spent two years building up its team of hardware and software engineers and is now ready to kick-off. 

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Although innovation has been proceeding at an algorithmic level, according to the firm, Graphcore said the same cannot be said about processors, and it aims to build "highly parallel processors" that will operate at higher speeds and will allow greater flexibility.

Nigel Toon, CEO of Graphcore, said: "The energy in our team as we start our journey is remarkable. The innovation they are unlocking is ground breaking. We look forward to sharing more about our technology and helping you to create the next generation of machine intelligent applications, services, products and devices."

The company said its investors will be providing both funding and connections within the competitive field of AI development. Among its investors are Bosch, Samsung, Amadeus Capital, C4 Ventures, Draper Esprit, Foundation Capital & Pitango Capital. 

Dr Hongquan Jiang, Partner at Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, said Graphcore provides "a unique technology that has massive potential in the fast emerging market for deep learning."

Jiang also added: "A new processor technology is needed for intelligent systems and Graphcore has the first technology that we have seen which really delivers the performance and efficiency needed for this style of compute."

Graphcore's technology could compete with that developed by other companies such as Intel and Nvidia.Speaking to EE Times earlier this month, Young Sohn, Chief Strategy Officer at Samsung Electronics, called Graphcore "one of Samsung's investments that is "challenging Nvidia."

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Ekaterina Almasque, Managing Director at Samsung Catalyst Fund in Europe said: "Graphcore's approach is unique in its capability to enable advanced intelligent systems. It closes the gap between the level of intelligence we want to see on edge devices and compute limitations of existing hardware architectures. Graphcore will play an important role as a key enabling technology."

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