Bristol startup GraphCore has raised another $30m for its artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning chip that will run in both the data centre and in equipment, doubling its first round investment for a total of over $60m.

“Several AI experts now share our belief that the IPU will be transformative to machine intelligence”


Nigel Toon, CEO of GraphCore (above right, next to CTO Simon Knowles), points to the investors backing the company. These include Demis Hassabis of DeepMind, Zoubin Ghahramani, Chief Scientist at Uber and several members of OpenAI as well as venture fund 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” said Toon.

The first chip will sample for early partners before the end of the year.

“Our IPU is a real game changer for machine intelligence”


“Our IPU is a real game changer for machine intelligence,” he said. “This delivers a 10x to 100x breakthrough in performance even when compared to very latest offerings and proposed products from startups and established players.

“We have been inundated with offers for additional funding from leading financial and strategic investors over the last year but 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 at the forefront of ‘Compute 2.0’, this new age of machine intelligence computing.”

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

More AI performance improvements to come

Atomico is making the investment from the new $765m Atomico IV venture fund, one of the largest venture capital funds ever raised in Europe. “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,” said Toon.

The company aims to scale up production deliveries of IPU products for production servers and cloud environments in 2018 and build a community of developers and partners around its Poplar graph-framework software, and is looking at a further significant round of growth.

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Nick Flaherty