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Big names in machine intelligence join Graphcore’s new $30 million funding round

Written by Nigel Toon

Posted Jul 20, 2017

We’re announcing our Series B $30 million funding round today, but what everyone is really excited about are the eminent AI pioneers who are backing us.

Demis Hassabis (DeepMind), Greg Brockman (OpenAI), Ilya Sutskever (OpenAI), Pieter Abbeel (UC Berkeley/OpenAI), Scott Gray (OpenAI) and Zoubin Ghahramani (University of Cambridge, Chief Scientist at Uber) – big names in machine intelligence – are all investing in our new round, which was led by Atomico.

We’ve been working closely with innovators at the front line of machine learning research to hone development of our Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), a completely new kind of processor designed specifically for machine intelligence, since we started Graphcore three years ago. That several AI experts now share our belief that the IPU will be transformative to machine intelligence, is a great endorsement of our team and technology.

I’m pleased we also have full support and follow-on investment from all our existing strategic and VC investors: Bosch, Dell, Samsung, Amadeus, C4 Ventures, Draper Esprit, Foundation Capital and Pitango.

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. 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.

Read the press release here

We have been inundated with offers for additional funding from leading financial and strategic investors over the last year. However, Atomico has demonstrated a genuinely deep understanding of the machine intelligence market and how it will evolve over the coming years. They also share our vision for building a major new company that can stand at the forefront of what we call ‘Compute 2.0’ – this new age of machine intelligence computing.

Siraj Khaliq, a partner at Atomico, will join the Graphcore board of directors. Siraj has a background as co-founder and CTO at The Climate Corporation, a machine learning software company which he built and exited, selling to Monsanto in 2013 for over $1Bn. Prior to that he was an early engineering hire at Google where he was one of the founding engineers working on the Google Book search project.

Atomico are making this investment from their new $765m Atomico IV venture fund. It is one of the largest venture capital funds ever raised in Europe, focused on supporting the most ambitious founders to build global category winners.

This additional investment will allow us to further ramp up our development efforts. With our first generation products close to launch and shipping to early access customers later this year, we are already starting to work on our technology roadmap with the aim to deliver a further 10x breakthrough in performance.

The goals we have set for ourselves over the next 18 months, and which our investors fully support, include:

  • delivering our first generation IPU products to machine learning innovators so that they can be unleashed to develop the next generation of intelligence systems
  • scale up production deliveries of IPU products so that our technology is available in production servers and cloud environments in 2018
  • build a community of developers and partners around our Poplar™ graph-framework software with seamless support for the leading machine learning frameworks
  • add a further significant round of growth capital in 2018 that will allow us to scale our company at an unprecedented pace

 

Many of the leading innovators that we have been working with over the last three years will be early access customers and we will have an exciting time over the next few months.

However, we are just at the very beginning of our journey.  This next step we are taking, in partnership with Atomico and our existing investors, to further accelerate our roadmap development and build our business, will help to establish Graphcore as the leader in machine intelligence processors. 

Written by Nigel Toon

Posted Jul 20, 2017