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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A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.