CHIPMAKER Intel has acquired artificial intelligence (AI) startup Nervana Systems in a bid to future-proof its data centre business and shift focus away from the flailing PC market.
Intel hasn't revealed the financial details of the deal, but Recode reported that the company paid "more than $400m" (around £305m), citing an anonymous source.
Nervana, a 48-person firm based in San Diego, California led by co-founder Naveen Rao, a former Qualcomm researcher, was founded in 2014 and offers a fully optimised software and hardware stack for deep learning.
The firm's cloud-based service allows businesses to build and deploy applications that make use of deep learning, and Nervana has developed a custom processor, known as an ASIC, especially for deep learning.
Intel is looking to the firm to bolster its own deep learning credentials, betting big on the fact that AI represents the next big shift in corporate data centres. The purchase also sees the firm moving away from the PC market, which hasn't been going too well for Intel lately.
Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Centre Group, said: "I'm excited to announce that Intel signed a definitive agreement to acquire Nervana Systems, a recognised leader in deep learning.
"Their IP and expertise in accelerating deep learning algorithms will expand Intel’s capabilities in the field of AI. We will apply Nervana's software expertise to further optimise the Intel Math Kernel Library and its integration into industry-standard frameworks.
"Nervana’s engine and silicon expertise will advance Intel's AI portfolio and enhance the deep learning performance and TCO of Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processors."
Rao added: "The semiconductor integrated circuit is one of humanity's crowning achievements and Intel has the best semiconductor technology in the world.
"Nervana’s AI expertise combined with Intel's capabilities and huge market reach will allow us to realise our vision and create something truly special."
Intel's acquisition of Nervana comes just days after Apple scooped up an AI startup called Turi. The firm handed over £150m for the Seattle-based firm, according to reports. µ
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