Intel buys Israeli AI chip co Habana Labs for $2b

Avigdor Willenz  / Photo: Eyal Toueg, ira prohorov

Habana will remain an independent business unit in Israel and will continue to be led by its current management team.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) today announced that it has acquired Israeli AI chip developer Habana Labs for $2 billion. Habana Labs develops programmable deep learning accelerators for data centers.

Intel EVP and general manager Data Platforms Group Navin Shenoy said, "This acquisition advances our AI strategy, which is to provide customers with solutions to fit every performance need - from the intelligent edge to the data center. More specifically, Habana turbo-charges our AI offerings for the data center with a high-performance training processor family and a standards-based programming environment to address evolving AI workloads."

Habana will remain an independent business unit and will continue to be led by its current management team. Habana will report to Intel’s Data Platforms Group, home to Intel’s broad portfolio of data center class AI technologies. This combination gives Habana access to Intel AI capabilities, including significant resources built over the last three years with deep expertise in AI software, algorithms and research that will help Habana scale and accelerate.

Habana chairman Avigdor Willenz has agreed to serve as a senior adviser to the business unit as well as to Intel. Habana will continue to be based in Israel where Intel is the largest employer in the private sector. In addition to its owns fabs and development centers around Israel, Intel acquired auto-tech company Mobileye for over $15 billion several years ago.

Prior to this transaction, Intel Capital was an investor in Habana. Other Habana investors include Lip-Bu Tan's WRV Capital (Lip-Bu Tan is CEO of Cadence Design Systems), Bessemer Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, and Samsung Catalyst Fund. Habana Labs operates in Tel Aviv, Caesarea, San Jose, Beijing, and Gdansk. It was founded in 2016, and since then has raised $120 million. Its latest financing round took place in November 2018, when it raised $75 million.

Habana CEO David Dahan said, "We have been fortunate to get to know and collaborate with Intel given its investment in Habana, and we’re thrilled to be officially joining the team. Intel has created a world-class AI team and capability. We are excited to partner with Intel to accelerate and scale our business. Together, we will deliver our customers more AI innovation, faster."

Habana’s Gaudi AI Training Processor is currently sampling with select hyperscale customers. Large-node training systems based on Gaudi are expected to deliver up to a 4x increase in throughput versus systems built with the equivalent number of GPUs. Gaudi is designed for efficient and flexible system scale-up and scale-out.

Habana’s Goya AI Inference Processor, which is commercially available, has demonstrated excellent inference performance including throughput and real-time latency in a highly competitive power envelope. Gaudi for training and Goya for inference offer a rich, easy-to-program development environment to help customers deploy and differentiate their solutions as AI workloads continue to evolve with growing demands on compute, memory and connectivity.

Intel said that the acquisition strengthens its artificial intelligence (AI) portfolio and accelerates its efforts in the fast-growing AI silicon market, which Intel expects to be greater than $25 billion by 2024.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 16, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

Avigdor Willenz  / Photo: Eyal Toueg, ira prohorov
Avigdor Willenz / Photo: Eyal Toueg, ira prohorov
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