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IA Axelera, a Dutch AI semiconductor startup, emerged today from stealth with $ 12 million in seed funding led by Bitfury, a security and infrastructure provider for the Bitcoin blockchain. Innovation Industries Fund participated in the round, which the company says will support the development of AI applications at the edge.
Edge AI, the processing of AI algorithms in devices such as drones, digital signage, cameras and sensors, is derived from edge computing, which starts from the same premise: data is processed and managed at the Internet endpoints of the stuff. Edge AI is advantageous in industries such as retail, robotics and manufacturing, where it can offer lower latency than sending data to remote servers and avoid interruptions and costs in the process.
Incubated by Bitfury, Axelera says it is developing a chipset to accelerate artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms at the edge. The startup claims that its product, which is scheduled to ship to select customers in 2022, will achieve a fraction of the power consumption and price of competitor hardware.
“The market for AI at the edge is in its infancy, and the current market leader is Nvidia. Recently, startups like Hailo, Mythic, and Blaize are hitting the market with new products. As many products were launched last year, there are no established winners yet, ”CEO and co-founder Fabrizio Del Maffeo, former director of artificial intelligence at Bitfury Group, told VentureBeat by email. “Our mission is to provide a ‘green’ (low power consumption) hardware and software platform that enables industry to take full advantage of what AI can bring.”
The cutting-edge artificial intelligence hardware market is projected It will grow from 920 million units in 2021 to 2.08 billion units by 2026, a lucrative rebound. According to one estimate, the AI chip market alone is worth $ 73.49 billion by 2025.
Del Maffeo says that Axelera’s technology is differentiated by a custom data flow architecture with multi-core in-memory computing. In-memory computing, or in-memory computing, is the technique of executing computer calculations entirely in the computer’s memory, which can offer high performance with low power.
Usability wants to be a focus with the chip. Axelera customers will be able to take advantage of out-of-the-box tools like Facebook’s PyTorch or Google’s TensorFlow machine learning frameworks and will not need experience in new AI development environments. And Axelera will provide software utilities that take advantage of performance-enhancing approaches, such as graphics quantization and optimization, that compress AI models with only small losses of precision.
“Recent advancements in deep learning have transformed the way computing devices process human-centric content such as images, video, voice and audio,” said Del Maffeo. “The application of Axelera’s technology to IoT devices could enable a new generation of applications capable of performing complex detection and recognition tasks.”
While Axelera predates revenue, the 30-person company has partnered with IMEC, an R&D organization in nanoelectronics, to develop its chip architecture. (IMEC is also an investor). Del Maffeo says Axelera is in talks with about 20 clients ahead of the expected shipping date.
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