'A single chip to outperform a small GPU data center': Yet another AI chip firm wants to challenge Nvidia's GPU-centric world — Taalas wants to have super specialized AI chips

 Taalas Chip.
Taalas Chip.

Toronto-based AI chip startup Taalas has emerged from stealth with $50 million in funding and the lofty aim of revolutionizing the GPU-centric world dominated by Nvidia.

Founded by Ljubisa Bajic, Lejla Bajic, and Drago Ignjatovic, all previously from Tenstorrent (the creator of Grayskull), Taalas is developing an automated flow for quickly turning any AI model - Transformers, SSMs, Diffusers, MoEs, etc. - into custom silicon. The company claims that the resulting Hardcore Models are 1000x more efficient than their software counterparts.

The startup also says that one of its chips can hold an entire large AI model without requiring external memory, and the efficiency of hard-wired computation enables a single chip to outperform a small GPU data center.

Casting intelligence directly into silicon

"Artificial intelligence is like electrical power – an essential good that will need to be made available to all. Commoditizing AI requires a 1000x improvement in computational power and efficiency, a goal that is unattainable via the current incremental approaches. The path forward is to realize that we should not be simulating intelligence on general purpose computers, but casting intelligence directly into silicon. Implementing deep learning models in silicon is the straightest path to sustainable AI," said Ljubisa Bajic, Taalas' CEO.

"We believe the Taalas 'direct-to-silicon' foundry unlocks three fundamental breakthroughs: dramatically resetting the cost structure of AI today, viably enabling the next 10-100x growth in model size, and efficiently running powerful models locally on any consumer device. This is perhaps the most important mission in computing today for the future scalability of AI. And we are proud to support this remarkable n-of-1 team as they do it," said Matt Humphrey, Partner at Quiet Capital which led the two rounds of funding alongside Pierre Lamond, an advisor at Eclipse Ventures.

Taalas says it will be taping out its first large language model chip in the third quarter of 2024, and aiming to make its chips available to the first customers in Q1 2025.

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