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This startup is making the super chips that power artificial intelligence work faster than ever

Its Intelligence Processing Unit has the muscle to handle machine-learning jobs.

This startup is making the super chips that power artificial intelligence work faster than ever
[Illustration: Mengxin Li]
THE WORLD’S 50 MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES
43 Graphcore
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Thanks to the pervasiveness of AI, the power required for tasks such as natural language comprehension is pushing conventional processors to their limits. Graphcore is a Bristol, England-based startup producing an Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) chip that’s optimized for industrial-strength machine-learning jobs. “We’re focused on helping people do things they’ve been struggling to do with existing hardware,” says cofounder and CEO Nigel Toon. For instance, one calculation used for algorithmic trading and other financial applications runs in 4.5 minutes on an IPU versus 2 hours with traditional hardware. In 2019, Dell began shipping the first IPU-based servers. And Microsoft rolled out an IPU cloud-computing service—giving companies on-demand access to Graphcore’s technology.

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About the author

Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.

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