Artificial intelligence startup SambaNova Systems raises $250M

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Artificial intelligence startup SambaNova Systems raises $250M
Thursday, February 27, 2020 By Dominic Robinson

Artificial intelligence hardware and software startup SambaNova Systems Inc. said today it has raised $250 million in new funding to allow it to further accelerate the software capabilities of its next-generation computing platform.

The Series C round was led by BlackRock and included GV, Intel Capital, Walden International, WRVI Capital and Redline Capital.

Founded in 2017, SambaNova designs and builds integrated hardware and software solutions designed to run AI and data-intensive applications from the data center to the edge. By integrating both hardware and a software solution, the company’s chips offer reconfigurable dataflow architecture that enables applications to drive optimized hardware configurations. In addition, software is said to be no longer confined by the constraints of fixed hardware.

“SambaNova’s innovations in machine learning algorithms and software-defined hardware will dramatically improve the performance and capability of intelligent applications,” SambaNova co-founder and Chief Technologist Kunle Olukotun said when the company raised money in 2018. “The flexibility of the SambaNova technology will enable us to build a unified platform providing tremendous benefits for business intelligence, machine learning and data analytics.”

Exactly whom SambaNova is working with and whom its customers are remains unknown and the company is somewhat secretive. VentureBeat reported that the company has previously revealed that it’s developing software-defined devices inspired by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-funded research in efficient AI processing. Given the potential computing power on offer and the company’s failure to discuss its customers, the government would be the educated guess, possibly military or other security-related agencies.

SambaNova competes with a range of established chipmakers and startups in the dedicated AI and machine learning processor space including Nvidia Corp., AMD Corp. and Arm Holdings plc. Intel Corp. is also a player, having entered the market through the acquisition of companies such as Movidius Ltd. and Nervana Systems.

Including the new funding, SambaNova has raised $456 million to date.