As we have been writing for a while now, artificial intelligence will transform pretty much everything we do in our lives in the next five years. This isn’t some new technology early on the hype curve. AI is actually in use today helping us to match faces, identify photos, videos, the spoken word, doing our taxes, improving collaboration, and even help in healthcare diagnosis, and soon, will help drive our cars and trucks for us. While AI has been around for a while, the big breakthrough was machine learning using deep neural networks that actually got smarter with more information you threw at it.
GPUs, with NVIDIA being the biggest recent beneficiary, have become the most recent standard for cutting edge deep neural network training, and inference today is spread across CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, ASICs and even DSPs. AI is a quick moving target and I think it’s unwise to think the engines today will be static in the future. The engines that drive AI are a very competitive space and not only are we seeing startups engaging, but the largest semiconductor companies like Intel.
Intel has been on an absolute tear in their goal to be the leader in AI. It acquired Altera for $16B and FPGAs are key to DNN inference. The company just announced the intention to purchase Mobileye, an ADAS supplier using primarily LiDAR with an AI roadmap, for roughly $15B. Intel bought Nervana Systems, too, a leading AI startup we had been covering for a while. And of course, we cannot forget their massive Intel investments in Xeon and Xeon Phi.