Canadian startup backed for photonic tensor processor

Canadian startup backed for photonic tensor processor

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

3E8 Inc. (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) has been awarded funding from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to support development of a photonic tensor core architecture for artificial intelligence.

The company was founded in 2020 to build on research conducted at George Washington University and in partnership with McGill University. The size of the grant is reported to be C$100,000 although 3E8 is also backed by startup incubator TandemLaunch.

The architecture is based on photonic memory and I/O technologies to achieve orders of magnitude advances in speed and efficiency for massively parallel matrix multiplication and accumulation (MAC) which are fundamental operation in Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) computation.

The use of photonics is expected to reduce power consumption and provides the ability to perform multi-thread computing using dense wavelength multiplexing. 3E8 predicts advantages over digital electronics of the order of 1,000x.

The size of AI models in terms of parameters and data sets is growing exponentially creating the possibility of an AI-prompted climate challenge, the company asserted. 3E8’s roadmap could help slash AI energy consumption and associated carbon footprint by up to 50 percent, the company added.

The company was co-founded by CEO Mike McAuliffe, a semiconductor industry veteran who was CEO of Powervation up until its acquisition by Rohm Electronics.

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