Salience Labs Ltd. (Oxford, England), a November 2020 startup developing a photonic AI processor, has raised $11.5 million in seed funding and revealed it is being backed by Jalal Bagherli, former CEO of Dialog Semiconductor.
The funding round was led by Cambridge Innovation Capital and Oxford Science Enterprises, with Oxford Investment Consultants, former CEO of Dialog Semiconductor Jalal Bagherli, Silicon Catalyst, the Goh Family Office from Singapore and Arm-backed Deeptech Labs participating.
Salience Labs as spun out of the University of Oxford and the University of Munster to develop a multi-die processor that packages a photonics chip together with standard electronics.
In December 2021 Salience received £350,000 in pre-seed funding from Deeptech Labs (see Cambridge incubator invests in UK photonic processor startup). Along with the money came 13 weeks of mentoring to help then gain venture capital funding.
The company claims the technology is scalable and capable of stacking up to 64 vectors on single beam of light. By multiplexing, Salience Labs can deliver massively parallel processing performance, the company states.
This is a approach being followed by other companies (see Canadian startup backed for photonic tensor processor) as the photonic computation sector has attracted interest. Salience Labs uses a proprietary amplitude-based approach resulting in dense computing chips clocking at tens of GHz.
Salience revealed that in its multi-chip hybrid electronic, optical architecture the photonic processing maps directly on to SRAM. The company is developing its chips with production foundries using CMOS processes.
“The world needs ever faster chips to grow AI capability, but the semiconductor industry cannot keep pace with this demand. We’re solving this with our proprietary ‘on-memory compute’ architecture which combines the ultra-fast speed of photonics, the flexibility of electronics and the manufacturability of CMOS,” said Vaysh Kewada, CEO and co-founder of Salience Labs, in a statement.
Jalal Bagherli said: “The team at Salience Labs is world-class, combining commercial and technical acumen with a disruptive market vision. Their unique ‘on-memory compute’ architecture is ground-breaking, with the potential for breakthrough performance and power capability beyond what the established CMOS roadmap offers.”
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