ThinkForce Received 450 Million RMB Investment from YITU, YF Capital, Sequoia Capital China and Hillhouse Capital

Time : Dec 14 , 2017

(News Source: AI-chip start-up ThinkForce announced that it had raised 450 million RMB (68M USD) in series A round from YITU, Jack Ma-backed YunFeng Capital, Sequoia Capital China and Hillhouse Capital. The investment from three top VCs and AI leading enterprise YITU demonstrated they had a consistent recognition toward the future AI chips.

Globally, AI chips have long been the most important strategic ground for industry giants. Google self developed TPU. Nvidia launched Pascal and Volta architecture successively. Intel merged Mobileye and Movidius by $15 billion. Facebook, Tesla, and other industry giants also exploited market in the field of AI chips. Domestic companies such as Alibaba and Tencent were unwilling to lag behind either, having already begin to invest in AI chips enterprises at home and abroad. Foreseen by ThinkForce’s financing, industrial resources will surely gather further with the rapid entry of top VCs with global perspective.

The AI chip ThinkForce plans to launch is based on the advanced silicon art in the industry, using the self-developed microkernel ManyCore architecture which enables the AI cloud virtualization scheduling at chip level. That architecture improves the elastic computing and scheduling of the AI cloud an amount level. The virtualization like CPU brings multiplied cost savings to the cloud computing flexibility. At the same time, combined with self-developed firmware and TFDL software SDK, the technology enables computing acceleration of various NN models and more than 5 times power consumption and cost savings compared with the Nvidia mainstream computing card.

Coming from IBM, AMD, INTEL, LSI, Broadcom, Cadence, ZTE and other industry leading chip enterprises, the ThinkForce team have solid industrial background.  They all have professional chip R&D experiences for more than a decade, led projects such as IBM PowerPC CPU, Northbridge of AMD APU, SONY PS3 Cell Processor, Microsoft XBOX CPU, the world's fastest 56G SERDES and etc. The team members have brought over 40 chips to mass production, with total sales of several billions USD. With the top AI algorithm and engineering aid from YITU, the team is very impressive in the industry.

Learning about ThinkForce's financing news, we contacted Mr. Zhenning Zhang, VP marketing of ThinkForce , and Ms. Huiru Jiao, Director of Strategy at YITU.

Mr. Zhang said, "We believe that algorithms decide the silicon design in the era of AI. Through the study of various AI algorithms, we extract their common calculation features and accelerate them with hardware. With a flexible firmware and driver, we can seamless connect hardware with upper layer application software. YITU's experiences and technology accumulation in this field have helped us a lot. Meanwhile, AI  can produce lots of value in vertical industrial applications. We will cooperate deeply with enterprises in the vertical industries.  Instead of disrupting various industries with AI, we are more willing to help our industry partners to create more value with efficient computing power. "

Ms. Jiao said, “No matter as an investor or a partner, we might be too confident to understand the cutting-edge silicon technology and make corresponding investment and cooperative judgement within a short time. So it's better to judge from the team. The core members of ThinkForce are top talents in silicon industry. Having a great business reputation, they have expertise in chip design, system architecture, algorithm research and other relevant fields. Unlike traditional chips, AI chip is actually a combination of both hardware and software. Thus versatile team with rich background is extremely competitive in the world. We believe ThinkForce is exactly the team we are looking for.

(Excerpts the original press release)