Intel could soon acquire artificial intelligence chip developer Habana Labs Ltd. Although yet to corroborated by either Intel Corporation or Habana Labs Ltd., the acquisition deal appears to be in advanced stages of negotiation. If the acquisition goes through, Intel is expected to pay about a billion dollars for the AI chip designer.
Intel is rumored to be in advanced negotiations for the acquisition of Artificial Intelligence chip developer Habana Labs Ltd., reported Calcalist. The deal could be valued anywhere between $1 Billion and $2 Billion. If the deal goes through, it would count as Intel’s second-largest acquisition of an Israeli company. Back in 2017, Intel had paid about $15.3 Billion to acquire automotive chipmaker Mobileye.
Intel’s Acquisition Of Habana Labs To Grant Advanced AI Capabilities To CPUs?
Founded in 2016 by David Dahan and Ran Halutz, Habana Labs develops processors optimized for Artificial Intelligence applications. Incidentally, Dahan and Halutz are former executives of PrimeSense Limited, the company that Apple Inc. acquired. Back in 2013, Apple paid about $360 million to acquire PrimeSense, which was a 3D sensing company. The company offered an interactive device that can see, track and react to user movements outside the computer.
Habana Labs, on the other hand, is a fabless semiconductor company that makes AI processors for inference and training applications. The company recently launched its Gaudi training processors. According to Habana Labs, the processors can outperform GPU training workloads nearly four times over.
Intel’s interest in Habana labs is quite justified. Nearly every processor maker, be it for smartphones, desktops or servers, is now attempting to infuse AI capabilities within their creations. Some of the leading chipmakers like Huawei, Apple, Samsung, etc. are on second or even third generation of processors that have AI capabilities. Incidentally, Intel recently launched its Nervana neural network processors for deep learning training and inference.
Currently, Intel has a strong development and production presence in three main computing areas: CPUs, Solid State Drives and networking hardware. The company even announced a powerful GPU technology. Hence, it makes sense that Intel is now hunting for another product line that falls within its expertise.
Intel Competing With AMD Using Habana Labs?
It is no secret that AMD has rapidly gained momentum in the current year. AMD’s Threadripper and Ryzen line of processors has been giving Intel’s competing products a very hard time. Moreover, Intel has been having a very hard time moving on from the 14nm fabrication process. Hence it is quite logical that Intel will have to acquire external expertise and diversify into newer and rapidly emerging industries that require rapid AI capabilities.
'The most important thing for them with their new products and any potential acquisition is that they develop a real significant three- to five-year road map for R&D, and they stick to it,' https://t.co/DP6qpTUQtt
— michael ruiz (@michael71012602) December 3, 2019
Habana Labs’ first processor, Goya, is already being sold to customers worldwide. The company designs the chips and outsources their manufacturing. Interestingly, Intel is no stranger to Habana Labs as it has been a significant investor within the startup. Last year, Intel Capital, the investment arm of the US firm, participated in a $75 million Series B funding round for the startup. Other investors included San Francisco-based WRV Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Battery Ventures. The Israeli firm has reportedly raised about $120 million to date. Currently, Habana Labs employs about 150 people in Israel, Poland, and San Jose, California.
Incidentally, Intel employs about 12,000 people in Israel directly and works with another 1,100 people through its subsidiary Mobileye. Several Intel chips are developed in Haifa research and development center.