AI Firm Graphcore
Secures $30M Round
October 31, 2016
has completed a $30m Series-A funding round from a world-class line up
of venture capital and strategic investors.
The funding was led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH with Samsung
Catalyst Fund and other major technology firms, alongside leading
venture capital funds from London, Silicon Valley and Israel: Amadeus
Capital Partners, C4 Ventures, Draper Esprit plc, Foundation Capital and
Pitango Venture Capital.
Graphcore has spent the last two years building an experienced hardware
and software team to develop a system designed from the ground up to
accelerate both current and next generation machine intelligence
applications such as natural language dialogue, autonomous vehicles and
The company will bring its IPU (Intelligent Processing Unit) system to
market in 2017 with the IPU-Appliance designed to lower the cost of
accelerating AI applications in cloud and enterprise datacenters. The
IPU-Appliance aims to increase the performance of both training and
inference by between 10x and 100x compared to the fastest systems in use
The company also plans to make its low power IPU technology available
for embedded consumer applications including autonomous cars,
collaborative robots and intelligent mobile devices.
IPU systems will accelerate the full range of training, inference, and
prediction approaches. Its huge computational resources and software
tools and libraries are flexible and easy to use, allowing researchers
to explore machine intelligence across a much broader front than the
current focus on feed-forward neural networks. This technology will
enable recent success in deep learning to evolve rapidly towards useful,
general artificial intelligence.
A Bank of America Merrill Lynch report citing IDC research recently
predicted that the AI industry will exceed $70 billion by 2020 and
Tractica predicts that spending on hardware for deep learning projects
will grow from $436 million in 2015 to $41.5 billion by 2024.
Graphcore CEO and co-founder, Nigel Toon, said, "Machine intelligence
will have a bigger impact on our lives over the next 10 years than
mobile technology has had in the last two decades. Next generation
machine intelligence will allow us to translate foreign languages in
real-time, help diagnose illnesses and develop personalized treatments,
control robots that clean our houses and offices, drive cars
autonomously and provide us with intelligent digital assistants that can
help us organize our busy lives. The IPU is the first system
specifically designed for machine intelligence."
Graphcore CTO and co-founder, Simon Knowles, said, "For 70 years we have
built computers to do exactly what a software program says, step by
step. The program is an algorithm for solving a problem, and that
algorithm must come from a human. Today's computers do not actually help
the human to solve the problem. Machine intelligence is turning that on
its head. Intelligent machines can analyse data like humans, discover
underlying patterns, and effectively write their own programs. They can
then adapt their behaviour through trial and error, like humans. They
can deal with probabilities and exercise judgement in the presence of
uncertainty, like humans."
"We are at the dawn of this second age of computing, in which machines
are given the capacity for intelligence. The value to society of
intelligent computing will be far greater than that of all computing so
far. Silicon is still our best technology for building such machines,
but the design details will be quite different from today's
microprocessors. Graphcore is at the vanguard of this revolution in
computer design and has assembled a peerless engineering team to deliver
the first processors designed from scratch for general intelligence."
Linley Gwennap principal analyst of The Linley Group commented, "Machine
intelligence and deep learning applications are now popular enough to
justify new silicon approaches. The team at Graphcore has a strong track
record of creating successful new processors for emerging markets."
Dr Hongquan Jiang, Partner at Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH added, "Graphcore
has a unique technology that has massive potential in the fast emerging
market for deep learning. 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. We are excited to have led this very significant
"Graphcore's approach is unique in its capability to enable advanced
intelligent systems," said Ekaterina Almasque, Managing Director,
Samsung Catalyst Fund, Europe. "It closes the gap between the level of
intelligence we want to see on edge devices and compute limitations of
existing hardware architectures. At Samsung Catalyst Fund, we invest in
disruptive companies in this space, and believe tremendous value will be
created in the next 10 years by artificial intelligence applications.
Graphcore will play an important role as a key enabling technology."
Hermann Hauser, co-founder at Amadeus Capital Partners and a renowned
technology entrepreneur, said, "I have worked with Nigel and Simon
before in their previous companies where they achieved over $1bn in
successful exits for their investors. The team they have assembled is
second to none. Machine learning is becoming a major market and
Graphcore has the technology to lead this next wave of computing."
Bill Elmore, General Partner and co-founder at Foundation Capital, one
of Silicon-Valley's top venture capital firms behind a large number of
highly successful companies including Netflix, said, "Graphcore will
lower the cost of accelerating AI applications in the cloud. This is
exactly the type of world-class systems company, with breakthrough
technology, and a great team, that Foundation Capital supports."
Simon Cook, CEO Draper Esprit Plc, stated, "Graphcore is one of the
first investments made since we publicly listed in London and Dublin.
This is a sector we know well and a founding team that we have
successfully backed before. Nigel and Simon have created an exciting
company developing next generation processor technology and we are
pleased to be investing at this key stage in its development."
Cagni, Founding Partner of C4 Ventures, Apple GM and VP EMEA
(2000-2012), said: "Since its foundation C4 Ventures has been backing
hardware companies revolutionising their sector and we believe
Graphcore's disruptive technology is a game changer in the computing
field. Graphcore's solution pushes further the boundaries of Machine
Intelligence, which will unlock value across every industry."
Eyal Niv, Managing General Partner at Pitango Venture Capital, said: "We
are very excited to become part of Graphcore and to be backing great
entrepreneur like Nigel and Simon. I believe we are on the verge of a
new and smarter era, in which computer intelligence, machine learning
and deep learning, will transform every aspect of our lives. Smart
personalized medicine, autonomous transportation and robotics, smart
infrastructure and accurate business prediction are just some of the
areas which will be transformed and immensely improved by machine
learning technologies. I really believe machine learning will bring
about the biggest transformation ever, bigger than the internet, mobile
and social put together."
Graphcore was advised by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in the