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Intel just bought AI firm Habana Labs for US$2 billion

By Koh Wanzi - on 17 Dec 2019, 10:47am

Intel just bought AI firm Habana Labs for US$2 billion

Image Source: Habana Labs

Intel has picked up Israeli artificial intelligence startup Habana Labs for a cool US$2 billion, the latest in a string of acquisitions of AI-centric firms in recent years. The Santa Clara chipmaker bought Nervana Systems and Movidius in 2016, bolstering its AI portfolio in the areas of deep learning and computer vision respectively. 

Habana Labs makes programmable deep learning accelerators for data centres, and the acquisition will further add to Intel's AI capabilities and supercharge its efforts to carve out a space for itself in the AI silicon market. Intel says it expects the market to exceed US$25 billion by 2024, and it's clear the company has no intention of missing the boat on this one.

Intel is expected to generate over US$3.5 billion in AI-driven revenue in 2019, a more than 20 per cent increase from the previous year. Last month, it also unveiled its first ever chips built specifically for AI in the cloud. 

“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,” said Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Platforms Group at Intel. “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 Labs announced its Gaudi AI training processor in July, a chip that is supposedly four times faster than GPU-based systems.

Intel says Habana will continue to operate as an independent business unit and retain its existing management team. However, the Tel Aviv firm will report to Intel's Data Platforms Group, which also houses Intel's portfolio of AI technologies for data centres, allowing it to take advantage of Intel's existing AI resources.

Source: Intel