Microsoft invests in UK AI chipmaker

Tech giant is key investor in machine intelligence specialist Graphcore

AI chipmaker Graphcore has raised $200 million in funding from BMW i Ventures and Microsoft. 

The latest investment in the company - whose Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) hardware and software is the first processor to be designed specifically for machine intelligence - puts its valuation above $1.7 million.

"We've created a completely new processor that's the first to be specifically designed for machine intelligence workloads -- an Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) that will set a new pace of innovation," Graphcore said on its website.

"The IPU has been optimized to work efficiently on the extremely complex high-dimensional models needed for machine intelligence workloads. It emphasises massively parallel, low-precision floating-point compute and provides much higher compute density than other solutions."

This new funding brings the total capital raised by Graphcore to date to over $300 million from the world's leading venture capital, financial and strategic investors that also includes big names such as Robert Bosch, Dell Technologies and Samsung Electronics.

The latest investment from Microsoft is a big win for both Graphcore and the UK's tech sector. In July, a report launched on the eve of London Tech Week suggested that London had twice as many AI companies as Paris and Berlin combined.

Further to the report, a survey commissioned by the Mayor of London found that the UK's capital had some 758 firms who cite AI as a central part of their business models.

But it's not just London that's pulling in tech investment as Bristol-based Graphcore has shown. In October, it was revealed the UK as a whole is leading the way when it comes to producing so-called 'Unicorns' - tech companies that are worth $1 billion.

Looking at the North, Newcastle was crowned the fastest growing tech hub outside of the capital by former Minister for Digital Matt Hancock. 

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