Alphabet's GV invests in light beam-powered AI chips

Lightmatter, a startup that creates AI chips that harness the properties of light, has raised $22m in Series A-1 funding to continue development, with GV leading the investment


GV, a venture arm of Google's parent company Alphabet, has led a round of investment in Lightmatter, a Boston startup that is using beams of light on chips to develop super-fast AI.

AI is such an advanced technology that it takes an immense amount of processing power to operate the features consumers use, such as playlist creation and voice recognition. Current transistor-based technologies are approaching the limits of their capabilities since training AI on large datasets takes up a lot of time and energy that existing computer processors are struggling to accommodate.

Founded in 2017, Lightmatter makes optical computer chips that solve this problem by leveraging the properties of light to perform calculations at incredible speeds to support faster and more energy efficient computers that will power the next generation of AI.

The startup has received $22m in Series A-1 funding, with participation from existing investors Matrix Partners and Spark Capital, bringing the total Series A round to $33m.

"Lightmatter is building a next generation computing platform at the cutting edge of photonics and AI, at a time when there is a growing need for new hardware-based approaches to AI acceleration," remarked Tyson Clark, general partner at GV, who has joined Lightmatter's board of directors as part of the investment. "We believe the team's theoretical expertise and engineering talent are clear differentiators in the market for AI accelerators."

Dr. Nicholas Harris, CEO of Lightmatter, added: "We're excited to bring GV on board as we continue to build out our team and develop an ultra-high speed, energy efficient photonic hardware accelerator platform for AI workloads.

"Over the last year, we've brought together a team of 23 world-class scientists and engineers and proved out the key components of a computer architecture efficient enough to drive the next generation of AI. We're excited to move on to our next phase of product development," he added.

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