UPDATED 23:18 EDT / JULY 20 2017

EMERGING TECH

Graphcore raises $30M to develop its dedicated machine learning chips

British machine learning startup Graphcore Ltd. Thursday said it has raised $30 million to push its vision of making chips for machine learning.

The Series B round was led by Atomico and included existing investors Amadeus Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, C4 Ventures, Dell Technologies Capital, Draper Esprit Plc, Foundation Capital, Pitango and Samsung Catalyst Fund. A number of individual investors with an interest in artificial intelligence also participated in the round, including Demis Hassabis of Google Inc.’s DeepMind; Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, Pieter Abbeel and Scott Gray, all from OpenAI; and Zoubin Ghahramani, chief scientist at Uber Technologies Inc.

Founded in 2016, Graphcore is building “intelligence processing units,” chips that are specifically designed to assist programmers in creating machine learning computer systems that can be used in fields such as with autonomous cars or medical detection devices.

“Our IPU is a real game changer for machine intelligence innovators; in the way they work; in the new approaches they are able to try and in the results they will see,” Graphcore Chief Executive Officer Nigel Toon (pictured, right) said in a blog post. “The IPU delivers a 10x-100x breakthrough in performance even when compared to very latest offerings and proposed products from start-ups and established players. But it’s not just about acceleration. The prospect of a context shift in machine intelligence with the IPU is what is so exciting.”

Building chips dedicated to artificial intelligence and machine learning isn’t a new concept, but the market can best be described as emerging. Google’s Tensor Processing Units are similar to what Graphcore is building in terms of providing dedicated processing power for machine learning, though Graphcore is claiming to deliver a significantly more advanced and quicker processor than Google’s technology.

Including the new round, Graphcore has raised $60 million to date. The company said it would use the new funds to further develop its technology and grow its business “at a faster rate than originally anticipated.”

Photo: Graphcore

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