UK-based Graphcore raises funds to develop AI chip

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Graphcore, a UK-based manufacturer of artificial intelligence microchips, has raised US$222mln (£165mln) from new and existing investors.

The company, which originated in a pub in Bath and is now based in Bristol, said the new investment was to help accelerate the development of its intelligence processing unit (IPU) and support its continued global expansion.

Having raised more than US$710mln since being founded in 2012, the Series E funding round will take Graphcore’s valuation to $2.77bn.

As well as existing investors including Baillie Gifford and Draper Esprit PLC (LON:GROW), the investment round was led by the Ontario Teachers’ Pensions Plan Board and also saw contributions from funds managed by Fidelity International and Schroders as new investors.

“The new investors bring to the table deep experience in disruptive technology and support for scale-up businesses and underscore the size of the market opportunity that Graphcore is addressing,” the company said in a statement.

It added: “With our products, software and global sales operation in place, we expect 2021 to be another big year for the company.”

The company launched its new IPU processor, the GC200, in the past year and said customers are now taking delivery of its datacentre systems for scale-out.

Founded by Nigel Toon and Simon Knowles in the Marlborough Tavern pub in Bath after selling their previous semiconductor company, Icera to NVIDIA for $435mln, Graphcore has been built around the idea that its IPU technology will become the worldwide standard for artificial intelligence computing, or ‘the Intel of AI’ as some have said.

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