A number of prominent developers of artificial intelligence and the chief scientist at taxi ride hailing service Uber have contributed to the latest round, which was led by venture capital firm Atomico. Siraj Khaliq, an Atomico partner will join the Graphcore board of directors.
Graphcore is developing a hardware architecture that is optimized for a graph theory based approach to implementing neural networks and other machine learning algorithms. It calls the implementation an intelligence processing unit (IPU). The first IPU, codenamed Colossus partly because of the size of the die, is set to ship to early-access customers before the end of 2017 and more general availability will start early in 2018.
The latest tranche of money is going to be used for roadmap development and help build a community of developers and partners around the Poplar graph framework-cum-compiler that is used to program IPUs.
Poplar is a C++ framework that abstracts the graph-based machine learning development process from the underlying graph processing IPU hardware. Poplar includes an open source set of graph libraries for machine learning so that existing user applications written in standard machine learning frameworks, such as Tensorflow and MXNet, will run on an IPU. It can also be a basis machine intelligence programming paradigms which extend beyond tensor-centric deep learning, according to Graphcore.
Nigel Toon, CEO at Graphcore said: "Atomico has 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. 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."
Alongside Atomico as lead investor, the round has full support and follow-on funding from