After acquiring Nervana, Mobileye, and Movidius, Intel has now bought Vertex.ai and is merging it with their artificial intelligence group. Vertex.ai is a Seattle based startup unicorn with the vision to develop deep learning for every platform with their PlaidML deep learning engine.
The terms of the deal are undisclosed but the 7-person Vertex.ai team including founders Choong Ng, Jeremy Bruestle, and Brian Retford will become a part of Movidius in Intel’s Artificial Intelligence Products Group. Vertex.ai was founded in 2015 and initially funded by Curious Capital and Creative Destruction Lab, among others.
Intel said in a statement “With this acquisition, Intel gained an experienced team and IP (intellectual property) to further enable flexible deep learning at the edge.”
The chipmaker does intend to continue developing PlaidML as an open source project. They will shortly transition it to the Apache 2.0 license from the existing AGPLv3 license. The priority for PlaidML will continue to be an engine that supports a variety of hardware with an Intel nGraph backend.
“There’s a large gap between the capabilities neural networks show in research and the practical challenges in actually getting them to run on the platforms where most applications run,” Ng stated on Vertex.ai’s launch in 2016.
“Making these algorithms work in your app requires fast enough hardware paired with precisely tuned software compatible with your platform and language. Efficient plus compatible plus portable is a huge challenge—we can help.”
Intel is among many other giants in the tech industry making heavy investments in AI. Their AI chip business is currently at $1B a year. Their PC/chip business makes $8.8B while their data-centric business makes $7.2 billion.
“After 50 years, this is the biggest opportunity for the company,” Navin Shenoy, executive vice president said at Intel’s 2018 Data Centric Innovation Summit this year. “We have 20 percent of this market today…Our strategy is to drive a new era of data center technology.”
The official announcement is stated in the Vertex.ai website.