Graphcore successfully raises $222 million for Intelligence Processing Unit

In a recent Series E funding, Graphcore, maker of the Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) specifically for artificial intelligence (AI) workloads, has announced a $222 million win. Winning this round means that the company is currently worth $2.77 billion post-money. These funds will be used to accelerate IPU silicon, systems, and software development as well as global expansion. The company is not using any quantum technology but presents an interesting advance in computing.

Leading the round was Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’), with participation from Fidelity International and Schroders. Baillie Gifford and Draper Esprit, previous Graphcore investors, were also participants. The current investment brings Graphcore’s total to $710 million, and another $440 is expected post-closing to help future growth.

‘Having the backing of such respected institutional investors says something very powerful about how the markets now view Graphcore. The confidence that they have in us comes from the competence we have demonstrated building our products and our business. We have created a technology that dramatically outperforms legacy processors such as GPUs, a powerful set of software tools that are tailored to the needs of AI developers, and a global sales operation that is bringing our products to market.’

Nigel Toon, Graphcore CEO and co-founder

The new investors bring extensive experience in disruptive technology to the table, with their support helping Graphcore navigate the market and discover prime opportunities. Graphcore will have to slowly mature under the guidance of investors both new and old.

‘The market for purpose-built AI processors is expected to be significant in the coming years because of computing megatrends like cloud technology and 5G and increased AI adoption, and we believe Graphcore is poised to be a leader in this space. TIP focuses on investing in tech-enabled businesses like Graphcore that are at the forefront of innovation in their sector. We are excited to partner with Nigel and the strong management team to support the company’s continued growth and product development.’

Olivia Steedman, Senior Managing Director, Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP) at Ontario Teachers’

Graphcore’s Mk2 IPU products were first unveiled in 2020 and shipping has new commenced after production volume has been reached.

Graphcore’s successful founding is only the beginning

The IPU-M2000 is a 1U datacentre blade, housed within four Graphcore Colossus GC200 IPU processors. It is capable of one PetaFlop of AI compute. These IPU products are vastly superior to current GPU-based systems in terms of AI training and inference tasks.

The IPU-POD64 is built for large-scale tasks, being able to run large models up to 64 IPU processors in parallel or share resources between multiple users and tasks. Exascale compute can see 64,000 IPUS connected in IPU-POD configurations.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP provided legal advice to Graphcore during the Series E funding.

About Graphcore

Graphcore is the inventor and manufacturer of the Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), the most advanced microprocessor in the world. It is designed to work with next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) workloads. Graphcore was founded in 2016.

About Ontario Teachers’

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’) administrates Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan. Its assets are worth C$204.7 billion as of June 30, 2020. 80% of these assets are managed in-house, and since 1990 the plan has earned 9.5% in net returns. It is headquartered in Toronto, with offices in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East & Africa.