Intel Buys Deep-Learning Startup As AI Chip Sales Reach $1B


Intel has acquired a small artificial intelligence startup called Vertex.Ai that will give the company a boost in developing deep learning software tools.

News of the deal, first reported by TechCrunch on Thursday, comes after the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company recently disclosed that Xeon processor sales for AI applications reached $1 billion last year. The acquisition price of the Seattle-based startup was not disclosed.

The semiconductor giant has made several moves in the past few years in attempt to become a big player in AI applications. This includes acquisitions of structured ASIC maker eASIC, reprogrammable chip maker Altera, autonomous vehicle software maker Mobileye, computer vision provider Movidius, and AI chip maker Nervana Systems. The company has also put an emphasis on developing its own AI tools, including the OpenVINO toolkit.

[Related: Intel Hires AMD Exec To Boost Data-Centric Software Tools]

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In a statement provided by Intel, the company said Vertex.Ai’s seven-person team has joined its Movidius team in Seattle, which falls within Intel’s Artificial Intelligence Products Group.

“With this acquisition, Intel gained an experienced team and IP to further enable flexible deep learning at the edge,” the company said.

On Vertex.Ai’s website, the startup said that Intel will continue to develop its deep learning engine PlaidML as an open source project, which will become a part of the backend for the Intel nGraph open source compiler. The PlaidML developers said creating more support for a wider variety of hardware is a priority.

According to TechCrunch, the startup had raised funding from Curious Capital and the Creative Destruction Lab.