I’d like to congratulate Syntiant on raising a successful Series C round, and on surpassing the major milestone of 1 million units shipped. At M12, we’re incredibly proud to support the growth stage of this AI chip company, and to see their customer production volumes ramping.
In the words of Professor Andrew Ng, “AI is the new electricity.” The increasing ubiquity of AI has powered breakthrough performance in speech recognition, computer vision, and natural language processing tasks that we experience daily on our personal devices. Developing products and services that leverage AI requires a wide range of trade-offs and architectural decisions, including a consideration of a device’s power and processing budget. These constraints, along with user experience considerations, heavily influence whether AI models need to run in the cloud or directly on a device at the edge.
For example, OpenAI’s massive GPT-3 model with 175 billion parameters, requires the full compute capability of the cloud to run. On the other extreme are the nearly half a trillion edge devices — like all kinds of wearables, smart speakers, and phones — most with limited power and unreliable or nonexistent internet connectivity.
The prevalence of these edge devices makes the power and connectivity challenge ripe for disruption through the creation of an ambient fabric of intelligent things. Infusing this “tiny edge” with on-device AI processing requires a sophisticated combination of hardware and software co-design — especially for “always on” and quality user experiences in battery-powered scenarios.
The explosion of edge devices and growing need for AI at the edge is why we first invested in Syntiant during their Series B round in 2018. Today, we are even more excited to co-lead their Series C round.