Intel has signed a definitive agreement to acquire California-based startup, Nervana, and is calling it “The foundation of Artificial Intelligence.” The AI platform provides image recognition, computer vision and natural language processing solutions. The financial and legal details of the deal haven’t surfaced yet but it is reportedly north of $350 million, according to Recode.
The merger however will not deter Nervana in continuing all existing development efforts including the Nervana Neon deep learning framework, Nervana deep learning platform, and the Nervana Engine deep learning hardware. It will also retain its San Diego headquarters, talent, brand, and start-up mentality.
Intel states that Nervana has a fully-optimized software and hardware stack for deep learning with its IP and expertise in accelerating deep learning algorithms. While other cloud-based machine learning platforms are designed for hobbyists and researchers to broadly explore machine learning, Nervana Cloud enables businesses to create and deploy robust, custom, enterprise-grade deep learning solutions.
In a company blog post, Naveen Rao, CEO and Co-founder, Nervana, said:
The combination of Nervana’s technology and expertise incorporated into Intel’s portfolio will take deep learning and AI solutions to the next level. With this deal, we can now shatter the old paradigm and move into a new regime of computing. We’ll look back in 10 years and see this time as the inflection point of when compute architectures became neural.
“Nervana’s AI expertise combined with Intel’s capabilities and huge market reach will allow us to realize our vision and create something truly special,” Rao added.
Since its launch, Nervana claims to have participated in 3 rounds of funding and has raised around $25 million till date. Its last funding round was on May 2015 for a total of $20.5 million in Equity from Data Collective and Allen & Company LLC.
Intel claims that the acquisition will potentially expand its capabilities in the field of AI. In an Intel blog post, Diane Bryant, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Data Center Group, Intel, stated:
We will apply Nervana’s software expertise to further optimize 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 Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of our Intel Xeon and Intel Xeon Phi processors.
“We believe that bringing together the Intel engineers who create the Intel Xeon and Intel Xeon Phi processors with the talented Nervana Systems’ team, we will be able to advance the industry faster than would have otherwise been possible. We will continue to invest in leading edge technologies that complement and enhance Intel’s AI portfolio,” she continued.