Chip startup Cerebras Systems said Wednesday that it has added another $250 million in VC money to its war chest, in an effort to further develop its products based on large semiconductors the size of a typical foot-wide wafer.
A decade ago, a pitch based around printing a chip that spans an entire silicon wafer would probably have been summarily dismissed by serious financiers. Technical limitations long made the idea unworkable, and it would have been difficult to build a profitable business around such a strategy.
But today, as data center and supercomputer makers try to squeeze more performance out of existing hardware, fresh ideas based on improved technology aren't as quickly dismissed.
The company's flagship chips are called the Wafer Scale Engine, or WSE-2, and they are made with TSMC's seven-nanometer process. The chips include computing cores, memory and other functions, and contain 2.6 trillion transistors, compared with the billions found on a typical processor. The company packages the chips in its CS-2 servers.
CEO Andrew Feldman told Protocol that the company's technology outperforms graphics processors because the entire system was designed specifically for AI, compared to GPUs, which were originally intended for other purposes like gaming.
Cerebras' chips and server products are designed to tackle artificial intelligence tasks and are used by supercomputing sites such as Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and cloud computing businesses.
The new funding values the company at $4 billion, and brings the total amount of cash it has raised to $720 million. Alpha Wave Ventures and the Abu Dhabi Growth Fund led the funding round announced Wednesday.The investment in Cerebras is one of the first few that the Abu Dhabi-based fund has made public, with two other deals announced this month, according to Bloomberg News. Mubadala Investment, also an arm of the Abu Dhabi government, recently took contract chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries public.