US AI chip and tool developer Blaize has raised $71m to take on the automotive market, bringing the total raised to $155m.
The Series D funding from investors including automotive tier one supplier Denso will see development of AI chips as the central controller. This will be led by the UK design teams in Kings Langley and Leeds, Dinakar Munagala, CEO of Blaize told eeNews Europe.
“This funding will drive our move into EVs in automotive,” he said. “We have been working with the automotive industry to build an automotive grade product,” he said, pointing out that the design flow for the chips and compiler was compliant with the ISO26262 safety standard from the start.
The first step is consolidating some of the 150 microcontrollers in an electric vehicle into a smaller number of domain controllers, typically four or five. This would include a dedicated AI chip from Blaize for battery pack monitoring and optimisation and powertrain control, for example.
“We have been getting requests for using cell level optimisation of the battery- that’s a huge thing – there’s different parts of the problem and that’s an interesting area,” he said. “One OEM is looking at the battery, another is looking to combine this with other functions in a domain controller.”
“In the longer term our aim is central compute in 2029 and we have engaged with customers for this time horizon,” he said. “A central processor is where all our OEM customers are heading and given the validation from the auto industry with Denso we are committed to delivering value to our customers in that space. That fundamental technology is all about efficiency, we are about five times more efficient than our competition,” he said. That competition is currently Nvidia with its Drive system, although other chip developers are also aiming at the same central AI controller market.
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“Blaize System on Chip for automotive edge and central compute functions are accelerating electric vehicles and future architectural ambitions of automotive OEMs,” said Tony Cannestra, Director of Corporate Ventures at Denso. “With substantial power advantages making EVs more efficient and economical, Blaize SoCs offer best in class performance with lower power across in-cabin, out of vehicle, and autonomous operations, enabling a streamlined architectural evolution to centralize compute.”
“The automotive design team in the UK we acquired in Kings Langley and Leeds are doing the system level design and driving the applications for AEC [automotive qualification] and safety critical software and the ASIL [safety] roadmap, especially around the design practices,” said Munagala.