Startup Vaire says first reversible computing chip due in a year

Startup Vaire says first reversible computing chip due in a year

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By Peter Clarke

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Vaire Computing Ltd. (London), a computing architecture startup, has secured US$4 million in seed funding and said it plans to deliver a reversible computing chip within 12 months.

The company’s self-declared mission is to use reversible computing to create near zero-energy chips for generative AI and always-on edge devices.

Vaire was co-founded in 2021 by serial entrepreneur Rodolfo Rosini and Hannah Earley, a researcher in reversible computing from the University of Cambridge. Tom Knight, the founder of Ginkgo Bioworks and a pioneer of modern reversible computing, was among the seed round funders, Vaire said. This funding round brings the company’s total investment to US$4.5 million, adding to previous pre-seed funding of US$500,000.

Rosini leads the company as CEO, while Earley serves the company as the CTO. The company’s growth is further bolstered by the recent recruitment of Andrew Sloss as senior principal research engineer (see Arm engineering veteran joins ‘reversible computing’ startup). Additionally, Mike Frank, a prominent figure in the field of reversible computing, has joined the team as a senior scientist, marking another significant addition to Vaire’s expanding expertise.

Reversible computing? Entropy?

Reversible computing is a model of computation where the process is, to some extent, time-reversible. Reversible computing is an alternative to classical computing that performs calculations while generating a relatively negligible amount of heat, thereby reducing energy consumption and the need for cooling.

The concept is related to adiabatic computing, thermodynamics and information theory. Academic interest in reversible computing has grown because it offers a potential way to improve computational energy efficiency beyond the von Neumann–Landauer limit, which is the theoretical minimum amount of energy required to erase one bit of information.

“Vaire Computing’s near zero-energy chips promise advanced AI at a fraction of the energy cost with an architecture that can scale for decades,” said Rosini in a statement. “We are excited about this next phase of our company’s development and look forward to delivering our first chip in the next twelve months.”

The seed funding will be used to hire engineers and fast track the company’s first prototype chip, the company said.

Energy reuse

“Improving energy consumption and performance in chips by an order of magnitude unlocks vast revenue potential, as the [annual] GPU market alone is set to be US$400 billion within five years,” said Andrew Scott, founding partner of lead investor 7percent Ventures, in the statement issued by Vaire. “Vaire Computing is different because its technology is innovative at a foundational level, positioning the company extraordinarily well to capture a huge chunk of the future AI chip, and ultimately, computer processor market,” he added.

However, for now it remains unclear what material system Vaire will use to implement its reversible computing. Earley’s academic research has included the study of state-change within molecular and DNA computing systems. Molecular programming uses easily alterable chemical systems for computation. Earley’s 2023 paper on Reversible Bond Logic (RBL) applies reversibility and reversible computing to molecular programming.

Given the relatively small amount of funding announced so far it must be expected that Vaire’s prototype first “chip’ will be a simple “proof-of-concept” device that is used to persuade investors to join in with a series of much more substantial funding rounds.

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