Graphcore's 'Colossus' chip due before end of year

July 06, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
Simon Knowles, CTO of startup Graphcore Ltd. (Bristol, England), has discussed his company's approach to machine intelligence including providing some details of its first chip, code-named Colossus.

Graphcore's intelligent processor unit (IPU) will be shipping to early-access customers before the end of 2017 and more general availability will start early in 2018, Knowles stated.

Knowles provided the information in a talk to the Research and Applied AI Summit (RAAIS). RAAIS is a community for entrepreneurs and researchers who accelerate the science and applications of AI technology.

Knowles said he would not provide a complete description of Graphcore's Colossus but instead discussed the desirable characteristics for a machine intelligence processor adding that it needed to be an architecture that was not bandwidth bound and one that would be able to target desirable computational models for 20 years hence. While it needed to be good at supporting neural networks it should also be able to address concerns of higher abstraction that may become more relevant, Knowles argued.

Slide from Simon Knowles' RAAIS presentation.

However, in passing he said that Colossus would support a computational model called "bulk synchronous parallel." This divides processor functioning into two alternating phases; one is independent processor core calculation with local memory, and the second is reserved for exchange of information between processor cores.

Next: Colossal details and video