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AXELERA AI raises 27 mio dollars for AI Chip for IOT devices

10 November 2022

Axelera AI, an imec spin-off based in Leuven, is raising $27 million from investors in a new investment round. The European startup plans to use the money to launch and mass produce its energy-efficient chip for AI applications at the "edge of the network," also known as edge computing. The startup envisions applications in the manufacturing industry, among others.

The European startup was launched in September 2021 by research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technology imec and blockchain company Bitfury. Axelera AI is responding to the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), where a wide variety of devices are connected to the Internet. More than 125 billion devices are expected to be involved by 2030. Think smartphones, but also smart cameras in cities and sensors for industrial environments.

These IoT devices are collecting more and more data. Artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible to gain insights from this data. However, only a small portion of the data is processed in the real world. This processing often takes place in a data center. With edge computing, data processing shifts to the "edge of the network," so that processing takes place much closer to the source.

Axelera AI is developing a new generation of chips that integrates the processing power of an entire server into one chip. This with a fraction of the power consumption and price of current AI hardware. The chip should be integratable into devices and be battery-powered. The startup announced in May the successful testing of its first chip - the Thetis Core. The test chip delivered nearly 40 tera of processing per second. The company expects the successor to the Thetis Core to go into production next year.

Axelera AI envisions applications in a variety of industries. These include retail environments and smart cities, as well as drones and the manufacturing industry.

Axelera was incubated by the Bitfury Group in 2019 under the name Bitfury AI. Since early 2020, it has been working with imec to develop an energy-efficient computing architecture that enables powerful edge AI applications. Since September 2021, Axelera AI has been operating as an independent entity.

The startup is headquartered in the AI Innovation Center at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. It also has R&D centers in Leuven and Zurich, Belgium, as well as offices in Milan, Italy, and Bristol, UK. The startup plans to spread its wings to the United States and Taiwan this year.

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