Intel sinks $2bn on Israeli deep learning firm to boost cloud and edge AI portfolio
Intel has acquired Habana Labs, an Israel-based developer of programmable deep learning accelerators for data centres, for around $2 billion. The purchase will spur Intel’s efforts to bring increasingly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to cloud and edge based silicon, notably for enterprise and industrial networks.
Intel reckons the “nascent, fast-growing” AI silicon market will be worth more than $25 billion by 2024. It said the silicon based compute power for AI in data centres will be worth more than $10 million, or around 40 per cent of the total addressable market. In 2019, Intel expects to generate around $3.5 billion in AI-driven revenue, it said, up by 20-odd per cent in the year.
Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s data platforms group, said: “This acquisition advances our AI strategy, which is to provide customers with solutions to fit every performance need – from the intelligent edge to the data centre. More specifically, Habana Labs turbo-charges our AI offerings for the data centre with a high-performance training processor family and a standards-based programming environment to address evolving AI workloads.”
Habana Labs’ Gaudi AI training processor is being tested with various hyperscale customers, said Intel. Large-node training systems based on Gaudi are expected to deliver up to a four-times increase in throughput versus systems built with the equivalent number of GPUs, it said. Its Goya AIiInference processor, already launched, has “demonstrated excellent inference performance”, it said, including for throughput and real-time latency.
David Dahan, chief executive at Habana Labs, commented: “We are excited to partner with Intel to accelerate and scale our business. Together, we will deliver our customers more AI innovation, faster.”
Habana Labs will be able to “scale and accelerate” with access to the Santa Clara firm’s software, algorithms and research, said Intel.
The Israeli business will remain an independent unit, led by its current management team. It will report to Intel’s data platforms group. Habana Labs chairman Avigdor Willenz will serve as a senior adviser to both businesses. Prior to the transaction, Intel Capital was an investor in Habana.