Graphcore’s AI chips now backed by Atomico, DeepMind’s Hassabis

Jul 24, 2017 ·

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Is AI chipmaker Graphcore out to eat Nvidia’s lunch? Co-founder and CEO Nigel Toon laughs at that interview opener — perhaps because he sold his previous company to the chipmaker back in 2011.

"I’m sure Nvidia will be successful as well," he ventures. "They’re already being very successful in this market… And being a viable competitor and standing alongside them, I think that would be a worthy aim for ourselves."

Toon also flags what he couches an "interesting absence" in the competitive landscape vis-a-vis other major players "that you’d expect to be there" — e.g. Intel. (Though clearly Intel is spending to plug the gap.)

A recent report by analyst Gartner suggests AI technologies will be in almost every software product by 2020. The race for more powerful hardware engines to underpin the machine-learning software tsunami is, very clearly, on.

"We started on this journey rather earlier than many other companies," says Toon. "We’re probably two years ahead, so we’ve definitely got an opportunity to be one of the first people out with a solution that is really designed for this application. And because we’re ahead we’ve been able to get the excitement and interest from some of these key innovators who are giving us the right feedback."

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