Nvidia competitor Graphcore preps US initiative

UK-based startup Graphcore believes its AI-focused processor can take on GPU Goliath Nvidia.

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A UK-based AI-chip startup is making its first moves into North American to take on Nvidia on its home turf in the enterprise with new channel and reseller partners.

Founded in 2016, Graphcore makes what it calls Intelligence Processing Units (IPUs) and shipped its first product—the Colossus GC2 “massively parallel, mixed-precision floating point processor”—in 2018. In July 2020, it released its second-generation processor called GC200, but news of that was drowned out by all the disruption caused by COVID-19.

In addition to chips, the company sells cards and racks. The IPU-M2000 is a 1U blade built around four Colossus GC200 IPU processors, capable of one petaFlop of AI compute. The IPU-POD64 is designed for large-scale deployments and offers the ability to run very large models across as many as 64 IPU processors in parallel.

“As leaders in artificial-intelligence research and deployment, the US and Canada are incredibly important markets for Graphcore,” wrote Victoria Rege, Graphcore director of alliances and strategic partnerships in a blog post. “These new relationships will help us meet the growing demand for cutting-edge AI compute systems that excel at today’s most widely used applications, as well as being architected for the next generation of models and workloads,”

Graphcore already had some powerful partners. Microsoft is evaluating use of the IPU in its Azure data centers and Dell Technologies Capital is an investor in the company.

Joining Graphcore’s Global Partner Program are:

  • Applied Data Systems: a supplier and integrator of high-performance computing (HPC) systems to government, research facilities, and private industries.
  • Images et Technologie: A Canadian HPC vendor.
  • Trace3: Trace3 consults on integration in cloud, security, infrastructure, AI and more.

The company has also added North American channel partners 2CRSi, BIOS IT, and Boston Limited.

Graphcore is expanding its relationship with Dell Technologies as Dell’s OEM Solutions Group begins working to help their customers adopt IPU technologies. Dell Technologies Capital is an investor in Graphcore, and Dell was the technology supplier for Graphcore’s first-generation of IPU systems.

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