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Lightmatter Startup funded to Accelerate AI with Optical Chip

Today and AI chip startup called Lightmatter announced that it has received $11 million in Series A funding to accelerate development of the industry’s first chip to leverage the unique properties of light to enable fast and efficient inference and training engines.

It is rare to see true innovation in the chip industry today, but Lightmatter has done it. The importance of this groundbreaking technology cannot be overstated,” said Stan Reiss. “The Lightmatter team has applied a major scientific discovery to dramatically increase the power of AI and its reach into our lives.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) is pervasive in daily life, powering products ranging from online advertising to intelligent personal assistants. The AI models behind these products are “trained” using large datasets — a process that requires a lot of time and energy with existing computer processors. As AI algorithms continue to develop, current technologies will struggle to keep up with the increasing demand for computing power. Faster and more energy efficient computers will be essential. This is where Lightmatter comes in.

Dr. Nicholas Harris is the CEO of Lightmatter. 

Through patented technology developed at MIT, Lightmatter has created a silicon chip that uses light signals, rather than electrical signals, for processing. This chip was used to demonstrate a new form of AI processing that promises orders of magnitude performance improvements over what’s feasible using existing technologies.

For decades, electronic computers have been at the foundation of the computational progress that has ultimately enabled the AI revolution, but AI algorithms have a voracious appetite for computational power,” said Dr. Nicholas Harris, CEO of Lightmatter. “AI is really in its infancy, and to move forward, new enabling technologies are required. At Lightmatter, we are augmenting electronic computers with photonics to power a fundamentally new kind of computer that is efficient enough to propel the next generation of AI.”

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