The speed of AI computation doubles every 3.4 months, outpacing what standard semiconductor technologies have left to offer. Meanwhile, AI hardware is moving away from general purpose applications in response to market demands which are increasingly verticalised by use-case. To accelerate exponential advances in AI across industries, a new paradigm for compute – one that is both faster and highly application-specific - is now required.
Bridging this widening gap between AI processing demand and semiconductor industry supply, Oxford-based Salience Labs has raised $11.5 million in funding to develop an ultra-high-speed multi-chip processor combining photonics and electronics to accelerate exponential advances in AI. The seed round was led by Cambridge Innovation Capital and Oxford Science Enterprises, with Oxford Investment Consultants, former CEO of Dialog Semiconductor Jalal Bagherli, ex-Temasek Board Member Yew Lin Goh and Arm-backed Deeptech Labs participating.
Salience Labs aims to commercialise an ultra high-speed multi-chip processor that packages a photonics chip together with standard electronics.
The company leverages multi-chip design, with the photonic processing mapping directly on top of the Static Random Access Memory (SRAM). This ‘on-memory compute’ architecture is faster and more adaptable to the application-specific requirements of different market verticals, making it ideal for realising AI use-cases in communications, robotics, vision systems, healthcare and other data workloads.
Vaysh Kewada, CEO and co-founder of Salience Labs said: “The world needs ever faster chips to grow AI capability, but the semiconductor industry cannot keep pace with this demand. We’re solving this supply-demand market disconnect with our proprietary ‘on-memory compute’ approach which combines the ultra-fast speed of photonics, the flexibility of electronics and the manufacturability of CMOS to deliver exascale computing to AI applications. This will usher in a new era of processing, where supercompute AI becomes ubiquitous.”
Ian Lane, partner, Cambridge Innovation Capital said: “Salience Labs brings together deep domain expertise in photonics, electronics and CMOS manufacture. Their unique approach to photonics delivers an exceedingly dense computing chip without having to scale the photonics chip to large sizes.”