Funding will help the company scale up AI chip production.
Graphcore announced this week that it has raised $222 million in a Series E funding round. The round values the company at $2.77 billion post-money.
The company makes what they call an Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU). This is a new type of microprocessor specifically to support artificial intelligence workloads. Graphcore will use the new investment to support the company’s continued global expansion. It will also help further accelerate future IPU silicon, systems and software development.
The Graphcore IPUs competes against GPU chips from the likes of Nvidia and Intel also optimized for AI applications.
Graphcore chips “dramatically outperform” GPUs
Graphcore CEO and co-founder Nigel Toon boasted of the deal’s bona fides. “Having the backing of such respected institutional investors says something very powerful about how the markets now view Graphcore,” he said. “The confidence that they have in us comes from the competence we have demonstrated building our products and our business.”
“We have created a technology that dramatically outperforms legacy processors such as GPUs, a powerful set of software tools that are tailored to the needs of AI developers, and a global sales operation that is bringing our products to market.”
The company’ unveiled its Mk2 IPU products in 2020. They are now shipping in production volume to customers.
The IPU-M2000 is a 1U datacentre blade. It is built around four Graphcore Colossus GC200 IPU processors, capable of one PetaFlop of AI compute. For many AI training and inference tasks, IPU systems significantly outperforms the latest GPU-based systems.
Graphcore’s IPU-POD64 for large scale deployments offers the ability to run very large models. This can be done across up to 64 IPU processors in parallel. It can also be used to share the compute resource across multiple users and tasks. For Exascale compute, companies can connect up to 64,000 IPUs in IPU-POD configurations.
Preparing for an IPO?
Graphcore will most likely also use the funding to shore up its finances ahead of a possible public listing. CEO Toon said it could be “premature” to describe this Series E as a “pre-IPO” round. However, he added “we have enough cash and this puts us in a position to take that next step.”
Indeed, rumpurs say that Graphcore has in recent weeks been eyeing up a listing not in the UK but on Nasdaq in the US.