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Salience Labs Raises $11.5M to Develop Photonics Chips for AI

SalienceLabsPhotonicChip400x275

 May 12, 2022

England-based Salience Labs has announced it raised $11.5 million in a seed round to develop an ultra high-speed multi-chip processor that combines photonics and electronics to accelerate exponential advances in artificial intelligence.

The company said the speed of AI computation doubles every 3.4 months, outpacing what standard semiconductor technologies have left to offer. In addition, AI hardware is moving away from general purpose applications to more vertical use cases. Salience Labs said a new paradigm for compute – one that is faster and highly application-specific – is now required to accelerate exponential advances in AI.

The company was spun out of the University of Oxford and the University of Münster in 2021 to commercialize an ultra high-speed multi-chip processor that packages a photonics chip together with standard electronics. Salience Labs said the technology is highly scalable, capable of stacking up to 64 vectors into a beam of light. By using a broad bandwidth of light to execute operations, the company said it can deliver massively parallel processing performance within a given power envelope.

The company leverages multi-chip design, with the photonic processing mapping directly on top of the Static Random Access Memory (SRAM). Salience Labs said this “on-memory compute” architecture is inherently faster and can be adapted to application-specific requirements for different vertices, including AI use cases in communications, robotics, vision systems, healthcare and other data workloads.

“The world needs ever faster chips to grow AI capability, but the semiconductor industry cannot keep pace with this demand,” said Vaysh Kewada, CEO and co-founder of Salience Labs. “We’re solving this with our proprietary ‘on-memory compute’ architecture which combines the ultra-fast speed of photonics, the flexibility of electronics and the manufacturability of CMOS. This will usher in a new era of processing, where supercompute AI becomes ubiquitous.”

The funding round was led by Cambridge Innovation Capital and Oxford Science Enterprises, with Oxford Investment Consultants, former CEO of Dialog Semiconductor Jalal Bagherli, Silicon Catalyst, the Goh Family Office in Singapore, and Arm-backed Deeptech Labs also participating.

“Salience Labs brings together deep domain expertise in photonics, electronics and CMOS manufacture,” said Ian Lane, a partner at Cambridge Innovation Capital. “Their unique approach to photonics delivers an exceedingly dense computing chip without having to scale the photonics chip to large sizes.”

Salience Labs said the technology has been designed from first principles for volume manufacture, and is currently fabricating with production-level foundries using standard CMOS processes. For more details on the company, visit the Salience Labs website here.

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